Meal pattern changes are coming to Minute Menu HX

Meal pattern changes will be coming to Minute Menu HX in mid-to-late-August.

Here are some of the features you can expect to see:

  • A new food tool that will allow you to easily:
    • Add new foods to your food list (such as tofu)
    • Remove foods from your list (such as grain based desserts)
    • Edit food properties (such as indicating certain foods as whole grain-rich)
  • Three new pre-configured sponsor preferences that allow you to “turn on” the new meal pattern features as you want them
  • The ability to switch providers over to the new meal pattern individually or in groups (including a bulk add feature!)

We are creating help documentation now and it will be available in the next few weeks in the form of:

  • Training videos
  • Live webinars
  • Help pages
  • And more!

What can you now do to prepare for these changes?

  • Get all of your online claiming providers switched to KidKare as soon as possible!
  • Get scannable/paper form providers switched to KidKare if possible

Stay tuned as we will be posting more information soon!

Top Ten Favorite Resources for Getting Providers on KidKare

You’re busy, we get it! That’s why we want to make the transition to KidKare as easy as possible for you and your providers. All providers will need to switch to KidKare prior to Oct. 1st 2017. KidKare will be updated to accommodate the new meal pattern, but the old KIDS programs will not be updated.

We have a lot of resources to help you through this transition, but that can be overwhelming. So we’ve compiled our favorite top-ten list of resources here just for you.

  1. Learn how to use the Welcome Message to get Providers on KidKare.
  2. Learn how to see which providers have not switched to KidKare yet.
  3. Take a whirlwind tour of the entire KidKare program in this overview video.
  4. Download this printable Start-Up Guide to take on home visits.
  5. Sign up for our new Supporting KidKare LIVE training webinar.
  6. Learn how providers will use KidKare by taking the Getting Started with KidKare LIVE training webinar.
  7. Download a PowerPoint presentation (updated!) that you can customize and use for training providers on KidKare.
  8. Have accounting/PRO users? Share this help page with them for step-by-step instructions on getting setup in KidKare.
  9. Like our Facebook page to learn tips & tricks, receive notification of any outages, join in contests for prizes, like and share CACFP advocacy information, and more!
  10. Check our KidKare help site (help.kidkare.com) regularly as we are constantly adding to our library of resources!

We hope you find these resources useful. And if you haven’t already, get at least one provider switched over to KidKare TODAY!

How to tell which providers still need to switch to KidKare

The deadline is approaching fast – all providers must be moved to KidKare by Oct. 1st! But how can you tell which providers have claimed on KidKare? Excellent question! Just open up Minute Menu HX and go to:

  1. Reports > Claim Management > Track Received Claim Info
  2. The Provider Filter will appear.
    1. Select the Status box and then select Active
    2. Hit Continue
  3. Select a month (select the most recent claim month) and Continue
  4. Select a sort order and Continue
  5. On the Options filter, leave both boxes unchecked for now and Continue
  6. Finally, on the Filter Claims by Type screen, select the Kids option and Continue.

This will give you a list of all providers who submitted their claim on the old KIDS program. These providers will need to be contacted about switching over to KidKare.

To see which providers are on KidKare, follow the same steps above but on #6 choose the KidKare option.

 

Use the Welcome Message to get Providers on KidKare

Whether your providers have been claiming on paper forms or on WebKids, you can use the Send Welcome Message button to get providers claiming on KidKare. Just open the Provider Information screen, select a provider, and you’ll see the button (upper right area of the screen) just below the login ID. When you click this button, the Welcome Message will be sent to the email address listed on the “contact” tab for that provider.

Send Welcome Message

The date that the Welcome Message was sent will be logged right under the Send Welcome Message button.

The Welcome Message provides a link to the KidKare login page, the login ID and password, and a link to the Getting Started section of the help site – basically everything that the provider needs to start claiming online in KidKare!

Here’s a sample of what the welcome message looks like:

Welcome Message

The Welcome Message can be a great tool for getting providers claiming on KidKare.

If you’d like to see your welcome message before sending it out to providers, you can do that using a “test provider” account. Don’t have a test provider account yet? Click here to learn how to set one up!

Resources for New Employees and Beginners

Attention all new employees and anyone looking to learn the fundamentals of Minute Menu HX. Here are a few resources that will help you get started on your training journey!

Take the Program Basics for Beginners e-Learning class. Turn on your speakers to hear the audio!

Take the Receiving and Processing Claims e-Learning class. Turn on your speakers!

Take the Minute Menu Basics for Beginners and New Employees LIVE webinar hosted by a Minute Menu HX expert! Sign up for the day/time that works best for you and bring your questions!

We look forward to working with you!

Preparing Providers: Fruit AND Vegetable Requirement

The new Fruit/Vegetable requirement splits the previous ONE component (Fruits/Vegetables) into TWO separate components. (Fruits. And Vegetables.)

But what does this mean for our providers and how can we train them the most effectively?

Let’s break it down.

What is changing for…

  • Breakfast? Nothing changes. Provider’s can still serve a fruit or a vegetable for breakfast.
  • Snack? Providers can serve a fruit with a vegetable for a reimbursable snack. This adds flexibility for the providers!
  • Lunch/Dinner? Providers must serve at least one vegetable. Two vegetables can be served. But two fruits cannot be served. At least one vegetable must be served at lunch and dinner starting on Oct. 1 2017 otherwise the meal will not be reimbursable.

Since the change has the deepest impact on lunches and dinners and could result in a disallowance if providers do not comply after Oct. 1st 2017, focus your training on serving at least one vegetable at lunch and dinner. Phrasing it like this is much easier to remember and implement. Which one of these phrases do you think is easier to understand?

  1. The vegetable/fruit component is now split into two separate components.
  2. Start serving a vegetable with lunch and dinner!

(I vote #2!) Start training providers to “serve a vegetable with lunch and dinner” now! Talk about it at home visits, post it on your company social media pages, send a broadcast message from HX to all providers, add it to your email signature for a few weeks, mention it when providers call, and get the message out to providers any way you can!

I would even encourage you to create master menus for lunch/dinner and make sure that they all include a vegetable. Watch the Master Menu training video for more information!

You can also use the food combination rules feature to help train providers on this new requirement. Set up a Food Combination rule that generates an error message when two fruits are served at lunch and dinner. (If two fruits are served, that means a vegetable was not served.) This rule should be set to provide a “warning” message (not a disallowance) since meals that meet the current meal pattern are still allowable (even in states in early implementation) until Oct. 1 2017. The error that is generated can be internal only or you can choose to make it visible to providers. To setup a Food Combination rule go to Administration > Food Combinations.

For more information on how to setup a food combination rule, please watch our Meal Pattern Changes training video.

Please also see the Preparing Providers: Foods not allowed or limited under the new meal pattern blog article.

Preparing Providers: Foods not allowed or limited under the new meal pattern

Start training and preparing providers for the new meal pattern now! Whether you’re in an early implementation state or not, there is a lot of training that needs to happen to get your providers up to speed.

The USDA memos are clear that providers should NOT be disallowed for meals that meet the current/soon-to-be-old meal pattern. (Just read the Technical Assistance section of the Early Implementation memo.) So instead of just taking away foods that are not allowed under the new meal pattern (but are reimbursable until then) you can generate error messages for the providers to see, which will help you train them over the next several months and allow them to continue claiming reimbursable meals. Setting this up will only take a few minutes of your time and it will help prepare your providers for some of the changes.

For example, even though grain-based desserts will not be allowed soon (Oct. 1 2017) they are STILL ALLOWED between now and then. So rather than just removing all grain-based desserts from your food list, you can generate error messages that notify providers that they are not allowed under the new meal pattern. This allows them to continue claiming reimbursable meals but also receive technical assistance and training on the new meal pattern.

Use the Food Frequency Rules feature to setup “rules” for any foods that are not allowed or limited under the new meal pattern.

Create rules for:

  • Limiting juice to once per day
  • Limiting juice to zero times per day, week, or month for infants
  • Limiting grain-based desserts to zero times per day, week, or month
  • Limiting protein at breakfast to 3 times per week*

In Minute Menu HX go to Administration > Food Frequency Rules. Any rules created for the new meal pattern change should be set to “warn” only (not disallow) with the exception of the protein at breakfast rule. Watch the Food Frequency Rules training video for more detailed instructions on how to use this feature.

Please watch our Meal Pattern Changes training video for even more information about how to prepare your providers using the tools and features already available in Minute Menu HX.

Please also see the Preparing Providers: Fruit AND Vegetable Requirement blog article!

*Only if you are in an early implementation state that is already allowing a protein at breakfast. Contact the Minute Menu Support Team to have protein items added to the grain section of your food list, for breakfast ONLY, as a temporary work around to allow providers to start claiming those foods. Then, once the protein items have been added, create a Food Frequency Rule limiting those protein items at breakfast to 3 times per week. Since protein at breakfast is NOT part of the current meal pattern, anything over 3 should be disallowed. For this reason, set this rule to disallow (not warn).

Update Your Master Menus to Increase Vegetables and Whole Grains

Master Menus are a fantastic tool that sponsors can use with both homes and centers to give them easy-to-use meals that, when served in the right quantities, are always compliant and reimbursable.  With the new meal pattern changes coming, don’t forget to update your Master Menus to reflect the new requirement for at least 1 vegetable at lunch and dinner and 1 serving of whole grains per day.

Go ahead and update your lunch and dinner master menus now.  Make sure that each one has at least one vegetable planned.  And while you’re at it, consider making half or more of them contain a whole grain for the bread/bread alternate. You might even cut down on the number of Master Menus that contain juice, so that your sites are less likely to serve it more than once per day.  Updating and upgrading your Master Menus now means one less thing to worry about as the deadline approaches in 2017.

The same goes for Cycle Menus and EZ Menus.  Update them and have your sites serving compliant meals long before you have to worry about disallowing.

Why did reimbursement rates go down?

Each year USDA must adjust meal reimbursement rates and the administrative reimbursement rates for sponsors of homes according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) change during the prior 12 month period. Click here to view this year’s rates.

The CPI is broken down into many sub-categories, and Congress has determined in the law which parts are used to adjust rates in the CACFP.  Rates for Family Day Care Home meals are based on the “food at home” series of the CPI for All Urban Consumers.  Rates for centers are based on the “food away from home” series of the CPI for All Urban Consumers and the administrative reimbursement rates for sponsors of homes are based on all items of the CPI for All Urban Consumers added together.

This year, the CPI on all items increased 1%, which resulted in a $1 (rounded) increase to admin rates for sponsors of homes.   And the CPI for food away from home showed a 2.64% increase, which resulted in higher meal reimbursement rates for meals served by centers.

Unfortunately, the food at home series showed a drop of 0.69% over the same period.  This means that, by law, USDA had to adjust meal reimbursement rates downward for Family Day Care Homes.  Because any percentage-based decrease affects the higher reimbursement rates more than the lower rate, the Tier 1 rates serving the neediest children dropped more in real dollars than the smaller Tier 2 rates.  Some of the differences in the Tier 2 rates were entirely erased by rounding to the nearest cent, because they were already so small.

There’s no easy way to break the news to providers that they will receive less money for the same food, particularly when most of us aren’t actually seeing that food prices have dropped at all in the last year.  The only way to keep this from happening again is to urge Congress to change the law, prohibiting any future downward adjustment in reimbursement rates and admin rates.  This is not something that a sponsor, a state agency, or even USDA can change.

Child Nutrition Reauthorization hasn’t moved forward yet, so there may still be opportunity to urge your Congressperson to ensure that the good nutrition that CACFP provides stays accessible to the neediest children.  It certainly can’t hurt to let them know how much more difficult this makes getting healthy food to our most underserved kids.  Go here to find out how to contact your Senators and Representative.

New CACFP Meal Patterns and Minute Menu Systems

It’s an exciting time in the CACFP! The new meal pattern has finally been announced.  And the good news is that it’s pretty reasonable—both in the changes it makes for better child nutrition and in the implementation timeline.

Whether you use Minute Menu HX or Minute Menu CX, we know that you have questions about how and when our software will be able to accommodate the new meal pattern.  Some of those questions we can answer and even do now. Some of those questions are going to require research, planning, and software changes to implement.

In each and every case, the software that you, your providers, and your centers use will be fully compliant before the implementation date of October 1, 2017.

And as always, we’ll be providing training videos and other materials to help make this transition as smooth as possible for your internal team and for your providers and centers.

Early Implementation

USDA released a memo on early implementation of the new meal pattern, and we are in the process of discerning which portions of the meal pattern you’ll be able to switch to early and which portions will need to wait on new software development to comply.  In the meantime, it’s important to remember that early implementation is always voluntary and meals cannot be disallowed for following the current meal pattern prior to October 1, 2017.

If your state informs your office that it will choose to opt-in to some or all of the changes that are eligible for early implementation, please pass along that communication to us as soon as you receive it.  We will be able to use that information to determine the priority for making any necessary changes to our software.

Individual Allowances for Early Implementation

Fortunately, it looks like most of the individual allowances that can be implemented early will be simple additions to your food lists once your State Agency authorizes those changes.  This includes:

  • Reimbursing infant meals when the mother breastfeeds on-site (no change required)
  • Allowing yogurt, whole eggs, and ready-to-eat cereals under the infant meal pattern (simple additions and changes to your custom food list)
  • Counting tofu and soy yogurts as a meat alternate (simple additions to your custom food list)

We are working on a plan for early implementation of the meat and meat alternate at breakfast allowance and whether that item can be made available prior to completing all of the other changes needed for the full meal pattern update.

Full Meal Pattern Update Early Implementation

We’ll be working on our plan for rolling out the full meal pattern changes, in which we hope to include some enhancements to the software that will make dealing with foods and nutrition analysis easier for you.  In the meantime, we are anticipating further guidance from USDA over the coming months on what they will be requiring from a record-keeping standpoint and a monitoring standpoint.  Until the full requirements and expectations for implementing the updated meal patterns are understood, we are in planning-only mode.  We have no doubt that USDA will supply CACFP operators and participants with detailed requirements and operational instructions in plenty of time to make these changes in the software for the effective date of October 1, 2017.  Until we see more information, however, we will not be able to announce when or if early implementation of the entire new meal pattern will be possible.