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Know how your kid spends lunch money

Article Published: Mar. 18, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011

A new payment option should let Watauga parents know exactly where the lunch money goes.
The program, offered through privately operated, will allow parents to pay for school meals online.

A premium version will let parents see what their kids are buying, be it ice cream or a healthy lunch.

"We've had a lot of parents call and want to review the history of their student's meals," child nutrition director Nicole Mayernik said. "[Prepay] allows parents some visibility of what's going on with their student's accounts."

The basic prepay option only allows online payment on student accounts.

The premium option allows online payment as well as access to current account balances, a 45-day history of what students have bought in their account and automated e-mail notices when the account balance is running low.

The program isn't free. The basic option costs 5 percent extra in addition to the payment and the premium option charges an additional 5 percent and a $10 annual fee per family.

Students will use an identification number to make charges to their prepaid account.

While identification will not be required to make charges, Mayernik said it's not that different from the status quo and security shouldn't be an issue.

"It's a pretty safe account," she said.

The new service is optional. Parents who prefer to make payments on accounts at school can continue that option.

An introduction to Prepay, including a link to the Web site, has been added to the parent link page of the Watauga County Schools website (

To activate an account, parents need their child's cafeteria account number (the same as the N.C. Wise number on student report cards) and a valid e-mail address.

The service is operated by Meals Plus using software created by Education Management Systems (EDS), Inc., a Wilmington-based software company that develops, distributes and supports school accounting and food service management software in schools across the country.
Questions should be directed to Mayernik at (828) 264-7190 or via e-mail at (

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