The Cohoes City School District participates in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. Through these programs, the District receives commodities and subsidies from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Cohoes City School District offers meals to all students in its schools, and serves the meals according to federal requirements.
Free breakfast is offered to all students (regardless of eligibility status) at the following school locations: Abram Lansing Elementary School, Harmony Hill Elementary School, Van Schaick Grade School and Cohoes Middle School.
The Cohoes City School District participates in the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), offering free lunches to all students (regardless of eligibility status), at the following school locations: Abram Lansing Elementary School, Harmony Hill Elementary School, Van Schaick Grade School and Cohoes Middle School.
The Superintendent or designee shall carry out the rules of the school lunch and breakfast programs. The Cohoes City School District’s Reviewing Official, Verification Official or the Department of Social Services Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (ODTA) shall determine student eligibility for free and reduced benefits. Appeals regarding eligibility should be submitted to the Cohoes City School District’s Hearing Official.
The Cohoes City School District may allow free or reduced-priced meals for qualifying Cohoes City School District students after receiving a written application from the students’ parent or guardian or a “direct certification letter” from the (ODTA). Applications will be provided by the Cohoes City School District to all families.
School officials must also determine eligibility for free or reduced-price meals by using the Direct Certification Matching (DCM) process. The DCM process is intended to certify all eligible students receiving SNAP and certain Medicaid eligible (determined by the Medicaid Administering Agency);
The households with students enrolled in non-CEP eligible schools who have been electronically matching using the DCM process will be notified in writing and provided the opportunity to decline the benefits.
Child Nutrition Program Authorization
Since the Cohoes City School District participates in one or more Child Nutrition Program, the Superintendent has developed rules which address:
- What can be charged;
- The system used for identifying and recording charged meals;
- The system used for collection of repayments; and
- Ongoing communication of this protocol to parents and students.
The Cohoes City School District’s meal-charge policy and procedures will be distributed to all households that transfer into the Cohoes City School District during the school year. The policy and procedures may vary by grade. The Cohoes City School District will also provide details regarding payment methods on its website.
The goal of the Cohoes City School District is to provide student access to nutritious meals each school day and to ensure that a pupil whose parent/guardian has unpaid school meal charge balances is not shamed or treated differently than a pupil whose parent/guardian does not have unpaid meal fees.
The purpose of this policy is to ensure the District is in compliance with federal requirements for the USDA Child Nutrition Program and, and to provide oversight and accountability for the collection of outstanding student meal balances. The District shall ensure that students with unpaid balances are not subject to stigmatization, distress or embarrassment.
The provisions of this policy pertain to regular priced reimbursable school breakfast & lunch meals only. The Cohoes City School District provides this protocol as a courtesy to those students that have forgotten or lost their money. Unpaid meal balances place a financial burden on the District. In an effort to minimize the District’s financial exposure, charging of items outside of the reimbursable meal (a la carte items, adult meals, snacks, ice cream, etc.) are expressly prohibited.
Free Meal Benefit – Free and Reduced eligible students will be allowed to receive a free breakfast and lunch meal of their choice each day. A la carte items or other snack items must be paid/prepaid.
Free breakfast is offered to all students (regardless of eligibility status) at the following school locations:
Abram Lansing Elementary School, Harmony Hill Elementary School, Van Schaick Grade School & Cohoes Middle School. Students attending Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) schools shall receive a free lunch meal of their choice daily.
Full Pay Students – Students will pay for breakfast and lunch meals at the school’s published paid meal rates 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 snack items must be paid/prepaid.
The Cohoes City School District’s point-of-sale system (nutri-kids) will track all charges and payments.
Ongoing Staff Training
Staff will be trained annually and throughout the year (as needed) on the procedures for managing meal charges using the NYSED Webinar or training programs provided by the Cohoes City School District.
Staff training shall include ongoing eligibility certification for free or reduced price meals.
Unpaid meal charges will be addressed directly with the student’s parent or guardian who is responsible for providing funds for meal purchases; discreet notifications of low, exhausted, or deficit balances will be sent at appropriate intervals during the school year. Parents/guardians will be notified that a student’s account balance is exhausted and has accrued meal charges within 1 day of the charge and then every week thereafter.
The notification may include a repayment schedule, but will not charge any interest or fees related to meals charged prior to being paid. Cohoes City School District administration will further consider the benefits of attempted collections and the costs that would be expended in collection attempts.
School staff will communicate with parents/guardians with five or more meal charges to determine eligibility for free or reduced price meals.
School staff will make two documented attempts to reach out to parents/guardians to complete a meal application in addition to the application and instructions provided in the school enrollment packet.
School staff will contact the parent/guardian to aid with completion of meal application to determine if there are other issues within the household causing the child to have insufficient funds, offering any other assistance that is appropriate.
Minimizing Student Distress
School and Food Service Management Company (FSMC) staff will not publicly identify or stigmatize any student on the serving line or discuss any outstanding meal debt in the presence of any other students.
School and Food Service Management Company (FSMC) staff 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.
School and Food Service Management Company (FSMC) staff will not take any action directed at a pupil to collect unpaid school meal fees.
School staff shall deal directly with parents/guardians regarding unpaid school meal fees.
Ongoing Eligibility Certification
School staff will conduct direct certification with NYSSIS or using NYSED Roster Upload at least monthly to maximize free eligibility.
School staff will provide parents/guardians with free and reduced price application and instructions at the beginning of each school year in school enrollment packet.
Should the Cohoes City School District begin using electronic meal applications, the district will provide an explanation of the process in the school enrollment packet and instructions on how to request a paper application at no cost.
School staff will provide at least two additional free and reduced price applications throughout the school year to families identified as owing meal charges.
School 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.
School staff shall coordinate with the Chief Information Officer (CIO) regarding foster, homeless, migrant & runaway statuses at least monthly to certify eligible students.
Prepayments and Refunds
Students/Parents/Guardians may pay for meals in advance via myschoolbucks.com or with a check payable to Cohoes City School District. Funds should be maintained in accounts to minimize the possibility that a child may be without meal money on any given day. Any remaining funds for a student will be carried over to the next school year.
Refunds for withdrawn and graduating students require submission of a written or e-mailed request for a refund of any money remaining in their account. 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.
Unclaimed Funds must be requested within one school year. Unclaimed funds will then become the property of the Cohoes City School District Food Service Program.