In this day of instant access and constant communication, it’s not surprising that parents expect more from their schools. The smart school district makes as many things simple and on-line as possible. This includes paying for meals. The days of losing cash or checks are dwindling as schools include on-line payment systems in their arsenal of internet options for parents.
One of the hardest things for non-custodial, child support-paying parents (and their step-parent spouses) to get a handle on is how the child support is being spent. Generally speaking, one would expect the monies to go toward food, shelter, and clothing unless arrangements have been made for the child support to go to specific things. The use of on-line meal payment plans allows for non-custodial parents to track and more accurately ensure how a part of the “food” child support is being spent for their beloved young one.
We have the opportunity to use MealpayPlus. It is fast and easy. It stores a number of credit/debit card numbers in the system and there are email alerts to let you know when a card will expire. Other email alert options include a low-balance reminder that can be preset by the parent. This is particularly helpful if you need a few reminders before actually getting on-line to make the transaction. We have ours set for two meals so that we are always one step ahead of the lunch lady.
Another great feature that MealpayPlus has just upgraded is the History. In addition to having an On-line Payment History (which is fantastic for keeping records straight when the mother questions how much has been paid) but there is also a Purchase History. Previously, the Purchase History showed when a meal was purchased which was helpful because it let us know when my step-daughter was not at school (she always eats meals at school) so we could inquire as to her whereabouts and health status.
Currently, MealpayPlus shows us the Purchase History with more detail, including debits, credits, and pay offs to the charge account at the school. My step-daughter’s school allows three meals to be charged before they get a replacement meal, which usually consists of water and a cheese sandwich. While the school is kind enough to make sure our daughter doesn’t go without food, this isn’t an option she likes to have and we are grateful for a system where we can make sure that child support monies go where they need to go. Again, this is an excellent tracking system with proof of where all the money goes and how often the charge account is being utilized.
There are other on-line meal payment companies that schools use. Some of the ones that are getting good reviews are EZSchoolPay.com and mySchoolBucks. If your school is currently not using an on-line meal payment system, these would be great ones to suggest at the next School Board or PTA meeting.