DOE prepares to launch online tracking system for school lunch accounts

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An online system for parents to keep track of their child’s school lunch account is finally being rolled out.

It’s supposed to make it easier for parents to refill the account, and will alert them when it’s running low.

The Department of Education told us almost two years ago it was working on this new system after we started looking into why students were being denied a school lunch when their account ran into the negative.

Some parents have already begun to use the program via a pilot project that began last month.

Some say it’s convenient to check balances and add money to their child’s school lunch account. Others say they don’t mind paying in the office and don’t want to pay a fee.

Katsura Priddy likes the convenience of paying online for her child’s meals. It’s a program she used when they lived in Texas.

“It’s really quick and you can check what he has been using, how many times a week,” she said.

Parents who use the program tell us the best feature is checking the balance to make sure there are funds in the program.

Parents need to register, add the student’s name, add a card to pay with, then make a payment. The feature allows you to make online payments or set up auto payments, check balances, and sign up for low balance alerts.

There is a 5-percent service fee for online payments, which equals to $1 for every $20 spent.

The DOE says it gives parents the convenience to monitor their child’s account and make payments online and/or through a mobile app.

Some parents tell us they won’t switch because they don’t want to pay extra.

“It’s more convenient. Drop your kids off and just go straight to the office and pay for it,” said parent Janice Sandade.

The Department of Education told us it is working to get everything completed and ready in two weeks, after which all 256 HIDOE schools can use the service. Parents will receive a letter with more information prior to the launch.

The DOE previously told us the new system costs about $800,000.

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