School Lunch Pay Plan Still A Mystery
An online pay system will start on Sept. 12, but no one seems to know how kids will pay until then.
With the first day of school less than two weeks away, there is still no plan in place for students to pay for lunch over the first couple of weeks, according to school officials.
Chartwells, the company contracted by the School Committee to run the lunch program will begin an online pay plan starting Monday, Sept. 12.
But the first full day of school is Thursday, Sept. 1, and as of now, no one seems to know how students will pay for lunch until the online, “point of sale” system, called NutriKids, is up and running.
“There will be lunches and there will be a pay plan, we just don’t know what it is yet,” said a school department official on Thursday who asked not to be publicly identified.
A call to Chartwells was not returned.
Parents have not yet been notified how to establish an online NutriKids account for Wellesley, or about the details of how such accounts operate, although a statement issued earlier in the summer said the system will feature debit cards, account balances and purchase history information.
The first day of school, a half-day, is Tuesday, Aug. 30 for high school students who will start a day early and take an extra vacation day in February to accommodate the move into the new building.
Elementary and middle school students start with a half day on Wednesday, Aug. 31. No lunches are provided on half days of school.
Last spring the School Committee unanimously approved a policy that will require families to have a plus balance in their online account before students can purchase a school lunch.
This move was made in an effort to correct a billing system that had embarrassed the school department last winter when an unpaid balance of more than $100,000 was discovered.
After aggressive collection efforts, most of the outstanding balance has been collected.
Once in place, the new, online lunch payment plan represents a major change for high school students who had been able to purchase lunch and a la carte items from the cafeteria with cash, which will no longer be accepted.
According to the School Committee’s vote, once an account reaches zero, students will not be able to buy a lunch or an a la carte item such as milk, although an alternative lunch will be provided for five days to students who didn’t bring anything to eat.
Students who are now eligible for free or reduced cost lunches will still be provided a single hot lunch.
Instructions for parents on how to establish an online NutriKids account were to have been sent home with the summer packets, which have already been sent to elementary school families.