School meals programs provide children with the opportunity to receive the nutrition they need throughout the school day. Many households participate in school meals programs to ensure that their children are fed when they are away from home. There are various instances, however, when a household that is not certified for free or reduced-price school meals may not be able to pay for school meals. Reasons for the lack of money on the school lunch account can vary from a change in household income status, a misunderstanding of school meal procedures, or simply forgetting to refill the account. When this occurs, school districts should ensure that communication about the debt is held with the households and not the students. There are several effective strategies for outreach and engagement with households that have school meal debt.
Interactive Data ToolState of the States: Profiles of Hunger, Poverty, and Federal Nutrition Programs