Purchasing School Meals
The school cafeterias use a computerized cash register system. Every student in Montgomery County schools has an account to use. All students have a PIN (personalized identification number). To access the account at mealtime, a student enters his/her PIN on a keypad. At high schools with photo identification systems, the student passes his/her student ID card through a card reader. Once the account is accessed, all students use the system in the same way. When a cashier rings up breakfast, lunch or a la carte items, the total amount of the sale is deducted from the prepaid balance in the account. When a student owes money or does not have enough on the account, the student may pay with cash at the time of purchase.
Deposits into the account can be made by any student. The system is programmed to know which students are eligible for free and reduced price meals. A student’s status is always confidential. Students eligible for reduced price meals may prepay or pay with cash at the time of purchase.
Lunch Loan Procedure for all Students
All students have an individual account through our cafeteria software system. Deposits into the student accounts may be made through MySchoolBucks.com or by cash or check directly through the school cafeteria. As the student's cafeteria account diminishes, parents/guardians will be notified. On the occasion where a student does not have sufficient funds to purchase a breakfast or lunch, the cafeteria software program allows for a student account to enter into a negative balance up to $10.20. Once the negative limit has been reached, the student will receive an alternate meal, consisting of a turkey and cheese sandwich and accompanying side offerings until the negative balance is paid to the school cafeteria. Parents/guardians will be asked to reimburse the school's main office for the turkey and cheese sandwich.
Free and reduced-price meal applications are available here or at the student's school. Families are encouraged to apply if they feel that they meet the income guidelines.
Advantages of the School Meals Account
- School meals are convenient, economical and healthy. Today’s families are busy and a school meal account provides a quick option for providing a well balanced meal.
- Funds deposited on a student’s account eliminate carrying lunch money every day.
- All purchases are tracked and an account history can be requested if there is a need to check how money is being spent.
- Money can be placed on the account to ensure that a child does not go without a meal if lunch money or a bag lunch is forgotten at home.
- Students can benefit educationally by learning how to manage their own account balance.
How to Make Prepayments
- Any amount can be deposited into the student’s account. Meals and a la carte items are deducted from the account only at the time of purchase. The school meals account is not a credit system and checks are the best way to make a deposit. Write the student’s name and PIN number of the front of the check and make it payable to the school cafeteria. Checks can be given to the cafeteria manager or cashier. Prepayments made prior to mealtime helps keep serving lines running smoothly.
- If you have more than one child in school, you can write a check for all your children who attend the same school. Be sure to write each student’s name and PIN on the check so that it can be properly credited. Please indicate the deposit amount for each student next to the name.
Check Acceptance Policy
Checks used to pay for school meals must contain an address, phone number and student pin number. Returned checks are subject to recovery for the face value and a fee of $25 through an electronic debit or paper draft to the same account. Your payment by check constitutes your acceptance of these terms. If you have any questions concerning our check acceptance policy, please call CHECKredi at 1-800-239-1222.
- At the start of the school year, account balances from the previous year follow the student to the school in Montgomery County where the student is enrolled. Any money left on the account from the previous year will be available for the new school year. Students returning to the same school keep the same PIN. When a student enters a different Montgomery County school from the last year, the student receives a new PIN.
- If a student transfers to another school in Montgomery County during the school year, the student or parent should notify the cafeteria manager so that any account balance can be transferred to the new school. When a student transfers to another Montgomery County school, the student receives a new PIN. After transferring, check with the cafeteria manager to find out the new PIN.
- If your child will be returning to a MCPS school, any remaining balance will automatically carry-forward to the school your child will attend next school year. If your child will NOT return to a MCPS school next year, you should request a refund or, you can request a balance transfer if you have another child currently enrolled in a MCPS school. Send refund and balance transfer requests via email to DFNSHelpDesk@mcpsmd.org.