Lunch Services » Meal Charge & Prohibition Against Meal Shaming Policy

Meal Charge & Prohibition Against Meal Shaming Policy


The goal of Rochester School for the Deaf (RSD) is to provide student access to a nutritious low-cost lunch each school day and to ensure that a student whose parent/guardian has unpaid school meal fees is not shamed or treated differently than a student whose parent/guardian does not have unpaid meal fees.

Unpaid meal charges place a large financial burden on our school. The purpose of this policy is to ensure compliance with federal requirements for the USDA Child Nutrition Program, and to provide oversight and accountability for the collection of outstanding student meal balances.

The intent of this policy is to establish procedures to address unpaid meal charges throughout Rochester School for the Deaf in a way that does not stigmatize, distress or embarrass students. The provisions of this policy pertain to regular priced reimbursable school lunch meals only. Charging of items outside of the reimbursable meals (a la carte items, adult meals, etc.) is expressly prohibited.

Access to Meals

Free Meal Benefit - Free eligible students will be allowed to receive a free lunch meal of their choice each day. A la carte items or other similar items must be paid for at the time of service.

Reduced Meal Benefit - Reduced eligible students will be allowed to receive a lunch of their choice for $0.25 each day. The charge meals offered to students will be reimbursable meals available to all students unless the student’s parent or guardian has specifically provided written permission to the school to withhold a meal. A la carte items or other similar items must be paid for at the time of service.

Full Pay Students - Students will pay for meals at the school’s published paid meal rate each day. The charge meals offered to students will be reimbursable meals available to all students unless the student’s parent or guardian has specifically provided written permission to the school to withhold a meal. A la carte items or other similar items must be paid for at the time of service.

Parent Outreach

Parents are encouraged to submit a Free/Reduced Application to RSD for eligibility review or, if applicable, send a copy to RSD of their Direct Certification letter from New York State. Either an application or qualification letter will be provided by RSD to all returning and new students/families at the beginning of each school year or as new students are enrolled throughout the school year. Returning families will still have to fill out the application every school year for eligibility review and are encouraged to submit their application no later than September 15th of every school year. The application and its information is found on RSD’s Web site.

Below are the following ways that our school staff will continue to communicate with parents/guardians:
  • Our school staff will make at least two attempts (not including the application and instructions provided at the start of the new school year) to reach the parents/guardians to fill out a meal application.
  • Our school staff will contact the parent/guardian:
    1.) To offer assistance with completion of a meal application.
    2.) To determine if there are other issues within the household that are causing the child to have insufficient funds.
    3.) To offer any other assistance that is appropriate.
Parent Notification

For those families who do not qualify for the free meal or reduced benefits, it is their responsibility to see that their child(ren)’s lunch meals are paid for or have a lunch prepared from home.

Parents/guardians are highly encouraged to pay for the monthly lunches in advance. There are a few options to pay in advance: 1) You can pay by check payable to Rochester School for the Deaf. 2) You can bring cash to the Business Office at which time you will be issued a receipt. 3) You can pay online via MySchoolBucks: Funds should be maintained in accounts to minimize the possibility that a child may be without meal money on any given day.

A monthly invoice with the student’s current account balance will be mailed to each family within about ten days of the previous month’s end. For questions about the monthly invoices, contact Julie Presciutti in the Business Office at 585-544-1240 ext : 2481 or by email:

If a family is experiencing financial difficulty, the school staff will work with the family directly and discreetly and can explore options, including a repayment schedule.

Refunds for withdrawn, and graduating students; a written or e-mailed request for a refund of any money remaining in their account must be submitted. Students who are graduating at the end of the year will be given the option to transfer to a sibling’s account with a written request.

Any remaining funds for a particular student will be carried over to the next school year.

Graduating students or students who left RSD with unpaid balances at the end of the school year will be subject to having their transcripts and student records withheld until their balances are paid.

Unclaimed Funds must be requested within one school year. Unclaimed funds will then become the property of the Rochester School for the Deaf Food Service Program.

Ongoing Eligibility Certification

The Business Office Staff reviews and conducts the procedures for the administration of the free and reduced price lunch meal program of RSD to be the same as those prescribed in current and state federal laws and regulations. The following procedures are outlined:
  • The Business Office Staff conducts and reviews the statewide direct certification (DCMP) process by accessing the DCMP data via the New York State Student Identification System (NYSSIS) or New York State Education Department (NYSED) Roster Upload to maximize free eligibility. NYSED provides updated direct certification data monthly.
  • The Business Office Staff provides parents/guardians with free and reduced price application and instructions at the beginning of each school year to those not found on the NYSSIS system.
  • RSD must provide a thirty-day carryover of eligibility for free and reduced price students from the previous school year during the first thirty operating days of a new school year, or until a new eligibility determination is made, whichever is first.
  • The Business Office Staff provides at least two additional free and reduced price applications throughout the school year to families identified as owing meal charges.
  • The Business Office Staff will use administrative prerogative judiciously, only after using exhaustive efforts to obtain a completed application from the parent/guardian only with available information on family size and income that falls within approvable guidelines.
  • RSD will coordinate with the foster, homeless, migrant, runaway coordinators to certify eligible students. School liaisons required for homeless, foster, and migrant students shall coordinate with the nutrition department to make sure such students receive free school meals in accordance with federal law.
Ongoing Staff Training

Our Business Office Staff will be trained annually and throughout the year as needed on the procedures for managing meal charges using the NYSED Webinar or the school’s training program. This includes ongoing eligibility certification for free or reduced price meals.

Minimizing Student Distress

The goal of RSD for this policy is to ensure in a way that our students are not stigmatized, distressed or embarrassed while being compliant with the federal and state requirements of the USDA Child Nutrition Program. The following guidelines are listed below:
  • RSD will not publicly identify or stigmatize any student on the line or discuss any outstanding meal debt in the presence of any other students.
  • Students who incur meal charges will not be required to wear a wristband or handstamp, or to do chores or work to pay for meals.
  • RSD will not throw away a meal after it has been served because of the student’s inability to pay for the meal or because of previous meal charges.
  • RSD will not take any action directed at a student to collect unpaid school meal fees.
  • RSD will not serve alternative meals (i.e. cheese sandwich).
  • RSD will deal directly and discreetly with parents/guardians regarding unpaid school meal fees.
Nondiscrimination Statement

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at: and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; fax: (202) 690-7442; or e-mail:

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.