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Advent of MealpayPlus relieves parents of lunch money scramble

For most parents, multitasking is a part of life -- a long list of to-dos that all need to be dealt with at once. However, by adding the Web site to its lunch program, the Alden Central School District has just taken one item off parents' list

During last week's School Board meeting, district Business Administrator Carol Ranke explained how the program allows parents to set up an online account to pay for their child's lunch service months or even a year in advance.

"There is no need anymore to send children with checks or worry about missing money," Ranke said. "Next year, we are looking into being able to pay other student fees with it, like yearbooks or prom tickets."

In addition to eliminating early morning pocket-picking on the way to the bus stop, Ranke said the system advances what the district already accomplishes with the school's lunch program.

"If parents requested a report [of what their children purchased for lunch], we could provide it for them," Ranke said. "But with this, they can just go online and look."

The program acts as a cyber-space Big Brother lunch monitor, allowing parents to specify which foods their children can and cannot purchase and allows them to check which items were purchased at the end of the day.

"You can look and it will say: On Jan. 18 Billy bought a lunch or on Jan. 18 Billy bought ice cream," Ranke explained.

The program will also allow parents the option of receiving e-mail messages when their account is running low.

MealpayPlus will be available for use on Jan. 29 by going to the district Web site, There is a $2 service charge each time an account is replenished.


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