Payment for Meals

The School Lunch Program cannot allow students to charge meals and utilizes a computerized debit system. Students can either pay cash for meals at the end of the serving line or deduct payment from an established lunch account. Meals will only be deducted when the student uses his or her account. Pre-payments allow the students to move more quickly through the meal lines because there is no cash handling. Your child’s meal account must be paid in full by the close of each school year. To facilitate this process, you will receive reminder notes from the cafeteria manager and meals will not be given on "credit" for the last 2 weeks of the school year.

The system allows your child to enter his or her personal identification number (PIN) to access his or her account. Your child's PIN number will stay the same while with Highlands County Schools. All students will have an established debit account, although advanced payments are not required. Students will input their PIN number into the system regardless of their meal status: paid, free, or reduced, or whether they have money on account or are paying cash.

To help prevent mistakes and fraudulent use of student accounts, a digital image of your child will appear on the monitor for the cashier to view every time your child accesses his or her account. The only information displayed on the monitor is the student's name, homeroom, grade, account balance, dietary restrictions, and picture.

Parents may make advanced payments (cash or check) for meals by enclosing payment in an envelope with the child’s name, student ID number, and homeroom teachers name on the outside. If you are writing a check, please make it payable to your child’s school. Include the student’s full name and grade in the Memo portion of the check.

When account balances reach below five dollars, the cashier will remind the student by providing him or her with a preprinted take home message. (Students paying cash daily for meals can hand the cashier payment at the end of the serving line.) Should your child not have lunch money on the day of meal service, they will be given an alternate meal, but the child’s account will still be billed for the child’s current meal charge rate. All accounts that are in negative balances must be settled promptly. If you are experiencing a hardship, please call the district office to discuss options.

Funds are deposited into your child's debit account and available to your child when purchasing lunch and/or a la carte foods in the cafeteria. This ensures that your child receives a lunch and allows him or her to purchase a la carte foods as well if you so desire. There are no limitations as to what foods may be purchased a la carte, or how many a la carte purchases can be made unless you establish guidelines for your child with the school's Cafeteria Manager.

~ Credit Card Pre-Payments ~

Payment for meals can also be done on the MySchoolBucks website at You can authorize your child’s meal account to be replenished when the balance drops to a level you determine appropriate. You may also choose to have a pre-determined amount automatically charge to the credit card monthly for deposit into the student’s meal account.

~ Refunds ~

Please note that we will be unable to make cash refunds with this system of over $20. Any request for a refund must be submitted in writing. Refunds of more than $20 will be processed through the district’s Finance Department and the refund will be mailed to the parent. To initiate a refund, please contact your child’s Cafeteria Manager. However, any remaining meal account balance as of June 30th will be carried over to the next school year.

~ Free or Reduced Meal Benefits ~

An application for meal benefits can be found online at . You may apply for benefits at any time during the school year. If you are not eligible now but your income goes down, you lose your job, your family size becomes larger, or you become eligible for Food Stamps, FDPIR or TANF benefits, you may complete an application at that time. If approved, your free or reduced price meal benefits are good for the current school year. It may take up to 10 days from the time the application is submitted until benefits are started and you are responsible for payment of your child’s meals during that period of time. Benefits from the previous year are good for 30 operating days of the new school year.

We will let you know when your application is approved or denied. Please allow 10 working days for eligibility determination.