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School meal plans can be paid instantly, online

Paying for school meal plans is now as easy and instant as a click of a mouse.

As of Aug. 1, the Bemidji Area Schools District offers families an easy way to add money to their children's food service accounts by paying online.

"We have had people ask us for this for years," said Kate Lalone, Bemidji Schools' food service secretary. "The dilemma was finding an online program which was easy to use and instant."

The district's food service has contracted with RevTrak, a national credit card payment processor, to provide a secure site for making payments.

"RevTrak is instant," said Lalone. "If students realize they are out of lunch money while standing in the lunch line, they can call Mom and say, 'I don't have any money in my account.' By the time they reach the checkout line, there's money in their account."

School lunch payments can be made into food service accounts through the Skyward Family Access portal, currently used by families on the district Web site. 

Families can make payments online while on their home or work computers, any time of the day. As of Tuesday, Lalone says 50 percent of the district's families are using the Web site to pay for school meals online.

The food services Web site assures families that all credit card statements will show the payment has been made to Bemidji Area Schools. 

The following are helpful tips and reminders for families interested in paying for school meals online :

- To make online payments, families will need a VISA or MasterCard (credit or debit), the card number and its expiration date.

- There is a $1 charge for each transaction made on the web store.

- It is necessary to have a Family Access Account to utilize this service.  Families can register for Family Access on the following link:

- Families will need to remember two log-in names and two passwords. The online meal payment password and log-in name (in order to use a credit card) are separate from the Family Access password and log-in name.

- A minimum payment of $25 is required for all school lunch transactions made online.

- Payments can only be made for one child at a time; not one payment for multiple children at one time.