COVID-19 and Your Business: Essential Tips and KidKare Resources

Call to Action: CACFP support is urgently needed in the economic stimulus plan. Click here to contact your representatives!

The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has demonstrated how incredibly connected the world has become and how “in-it-together” we all are. KidKare by Minute Menu wants to affirm our commitment to continue supporting our valued customers and lead with transparency during this ever-changing situation.

Note: Check the FNS's Program Guidance on Human Pandemic Response (external link) for the most up-to-date food program guidance.

We have prepared this list of tools and processes that can help you navigate this ever-changing situation and will update it as needed.


Working from Home

Minute Menu HX can be installed on any computer, allowing you to work from home. Follow the instructions below to download and install Minute Menu HX at home. See our Install article for more detailed instructions. Before installing, ensure that your machine meets our minimum system requirements. You can find those right here.

To download and install Minute Menu HX at home:

  1. Log in to app.kidkare.com. Use the same credentials you use to log in to Minute Menu HX.
  2. From the menu to the left, click Downloads.
  3. Download and run HX Installer – Application Only and the HX Manual Update Patch.
  4. Follow the on-screen prompts to complete installation.

Observer Mode in KidKare

You can use Observer Mode in KidKare to view all reports and functions available to your providers in KidKare.

  1. Log in to app.kidkare.com. Use the same credentials you use to log in to Minute Menu HX. The Observer Mode page opens by default.
  2. Click a provider name to access their account in Observer Mode.
  3. Use the left-hand menu to navigate. While you can view the provider account, you cannot make any changes to it. Click Reports to view and print provider reports. Our Reports category at help.kidkare.com lists the reports available in KidKare.
  4. When finished, click Exit Observer Mode.

Scanning

If your providers use scan forms and you do not have access to a scanner at home, you can do the following:

Important! You cannot combine scan claims and online claims in the same month. Should your providers switch to online claiming with KidKare, all prior meals for the month must be recorded in KidKare before the provider submits their claim.


Processing Claims

When working from home, you may not have access to a printer. Minute Menu HX has tools that can help you process and monitor claims without printing reports to paper. See Process & Track Claims from Home for more information.

Desk Reviews

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to escalate, some states may begin allowing sponsors to complete desk reviews in lieu of on-site reviews. A desk review is essentially a review done remotely while on-site reviews are temporarily suspended to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  It is essential that you check with your state for guidance regarding reviews during the COVID-19 pandemic. Follow all regulations and guidance provided by your state.

Note: As of March 27, 2020, the FNS has issued waivers for Monitoring requirements in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to read the full text of the waivers. Contact your State agency for further guidance.

The following are useful tips for managing desk reviews for your providers:

  • Create a checklist: Create a checklist of all required documentation, if you do not have one already. This will help your Monitors ensure that all documentation has been received from providers.
  • Communicate deadlines clearly: Request documentation from providers early enough to allow them to gather and send such documentation to you. If your providers use KidKare, you and the provider both should be able to pull electronic records. The State may set a deadline from notification to documentation delivery, such as seven (7) days. Ensure your providers submit their documentation by said deadline.
  • Use online tools: Use online tools, such as Google Drive or Dropbox, to share necessary documentation with staff while working from home. You can also store training on such platforms and send links to providers who require it.
  • Video Calls: Use software to video call providers. Such software includes Skype, Google Duo, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and so on.

Update Provider Email Addresses & Payment Methods

As the need for social distancing and work from home measures continues, we recommend that you have email addresses on-file for all of your providers. Email provides a convenient way for sponsors to provide their providers with important documentation and reports, and vise versa. See Update Provider Email Addresses for information about how you can use the Provider List Export File to generate a list of providers with missing email addresses.

It is also a good idea to move providers who are currently paid via paper check to direct deposit to ensure that they continue receiving payment due to mail delays. See Locate Providers Receiving Paper Checks for more information.

Move Check Signatures to Your Home Computer

If you are capable of printing checks at home, move your check signature to your home computer.

  1. Save the check signature on each computer you use to print checks.
  2. Copy the existing signature.gif file and paste it to the C:\MMHX\Sponsor\CheckSig folder.
  3. Close and re-open HX.
  4. Click the Administration menu and select Check Format.
  5. Click Print Test Check. Review the test check and ensure the spacing is correct. For tips on adjusting your check format, see Check Signatures and Format Check.

Handling Capacity Changes

Some states may temporarily adjust the capacity allowed for home care during the pandemic. Contact your State agency for more information as the situation arises. See our article Provider Capacity for more information about managing provider capacity in Minute Menu HX.

Please note that due to the wide range of licenses available, not all sponsors may be able to update license capacity using the standard method. If your provider(s) operate with such a license, use the instructions below to update their capacity:

  1. Click the Administration menu and select Sponsor Preferences.
  2. Set preference F.010 to Y. This allows you to set maximum capacities per-meal, which overrides the normal capacity rules.
  3. Click Save.
  4. Select a provider and navigate to the Provider Information Other tab.
  5. Check the Allow Scan-Form Meal Overlaps box.
  6. Enter specific meal maximum capacities.
  7. Click Save.

Mid-Month Capacity Changes

Minute Menu HX cannot track two different capacities in the same month. Instead, we recommend taking the following steps:

  1. Leave capacities as-is for the current month.
  2. Process claims as usual.
  3. Generate the Paid Meal Totals report for all providers, and review it for meal counts greater than the provider's recorded capacity for dates after the capacity changed. For more information about generating this report, see Print the Meal Totals Report.

Note: Consult with your state agency regarding any provider licensing and capacity changes and how to handle them.

Marking School Out for Providers

With public schools across the nation closing to prevent the spread of COVID-19, you can update the Sponsor Calendar to show school out for all providers. 

  1. Click the Tools menu and select Sponsor Calendar. The Holidays and School Vacations window opens.
  2. Click Add School Vacations. The School Vacations dialog box opens.
  3. Click the Starting Date box and enter the start of school vacation.
  4. Click the Ending Date box and enter the end of school vacation.
  5. Click Update. School vacation for the date range you entered is added to the calendar.

For more information about using the Sponsor Calendar, see Sponsor Calendar.

Note: Providers can also add school closures to the Child Calendar in KidKare. For more information, see Mark School Out.

Handling Provider Closures

Some providers may be required to cease operation for an extended amount of time. There are several methods you can employ when dealing with this situation.

Using the Holiday Feature on the Sponsor Calendar

Should your state require all providers to close for a specific period of time, you can use the Sponsor calendar to set a sponsor holiday that applies to all of your providers. Before using this feature, check preference P.002 (Click Administration and select Sponsor Preferences). We recommend you set this to Disallow Always or Warn.

  1. Click the Tools menu and select Sponsor Calendar. The Holidays and School Vacations window opens.
  2. Click and to select the month in which to work.
  3. Enter a name for this "holiday."
  4. Click , drag it, and drop it on the appropriate day on the calendar. The holiday displays on the calendar.
  5. Repeat Steps 4 & 5 for each day of closure.

For more detailed information about the Sponsor Calendar, see Sponsor Calendar.

Placing Providers on Hold

If your providers must cease operation for an extended amount of time, place them on hold in Minute Menu HX.

  1. Retrieve the provider record.
  2. Click Put On Hold.
  3. Enter a hold reason.
  4. Click Save.

For more information about provider hold, see our article Provider Hold.

Placing Providers on Hold with Bulk Provider Update

Should you need to place numerous providers on hold at once, you can do so with the Bulk Provider Update feature. The basic steps are:

  1. From the Administration menu, click Bulk Provider Update. The Provider Filter window opens.
  2. Check the Choose Provider From List box.
  3. Click Continue.
  4. Check the box next to each provider to change. You can use the Move to Provider drop-down menu to jump to a specific provider.
  5. When finished, click Continue. The Bulk Provider Update window opens.
  6. Check the Provider Status box.
  7. Select the Update option.
  8. Click the Select drop-down menu and select Hold.
  9. Check the box next to each provider to which to apply these changes.
  10. Click Save.

For more information about the Bulk Provider Update feature, see Bulk Provider Update.

Handling Unavailable Food Items

On March 25, 2020, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service issued a nationwide waiver to allow meal pattern flexibility in child nutrition programs. You can read the full text of the waiver here. Contact your state agency to confirm whether they are applying this waiver before taking further steps.

Handling Edit Checks on Incomplete Menus

In the event of a food shortage, some States may issues waivers to reimburse CACFP meals without all required meal components, such as milk. Should this become the situation for a state in which you operate, take the following steps for claims processing:

  1. Set preference M.001 to N, as described above, so your providers can save incomplete menus. Remember to also set preference M.011 to Y, so providers can enter appropriate comments explaining the missing components.
  2. Set preference Q.008 to Warn. This will prevent the whole-grain edit check from disallowing meals.

You may also consider adding a food item to the list called No Milk Available - COVID. Providers can then add this to menus as the milk component. Minute Menu HX would see this as a food and and reimburse you.

  1. Click the Administration menu and select Manage Foods. KidKare opens in a browser.
  2. Log in using the same credentials you use to access Minute Menu HX.
  3. From the menu to the left, click Foods.
  4. Click Food List. The Food List page opens.
  5. Click New Food.
  6. Click the Category drop-down menu and select Milk.
  7. Click the Name box and type No Milk Available - COVID.
  8. Click the Food Type drop-down menu and select Milk.
  9. Adjust any other options, as needed. See Add a New Food for details.
  10. Click Save.

Should your state implement the nationwide waiver for flexibility in meal pattern requirements, follow Steps 1-10, above for other affected foods. Remember to select the proper categories and use a naming convention, such as adding COVID to the end, that allows you to easily find and remove these unavailable foods once the waiver is lifted. Communicate these changes to your providers as you implement them. For more information about adding foods, see Add a New Food.

Reporting

Run the Foods Served report to look for foods created for all providers for the claim month for which you are reporting. To access this report, click the Reports menu, select Claim Data, and click Foods Served Report. Once the report is generated:

  1. Print the report to PDF and save it to you computer.
  2. Open the PDF in your Internet browser or PDF viewer.
  3. Press Ctrl + F on your keyboard.
  4. Type the food name. The number of occurrences displays in the Find window.

Recording Meals Picked Up by Parents

On March 25, 2020, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service issued a nationwide waiver to allow parents to pick up meals for their children from childcare sites.  You can read the full text of the waiver here. Contact your state agency to confirm whether they are applying this waiver before taking further steps.

Providers should record meals as they normally would. To track the number of meals picked up, ask providers to record menu comments stating the number of meals picked up for a particular meal time. For example, if four parents picked up meals, the provider could type 4 meals picked up in the menu comments. If you have not enabled menu comments in KidKare, set preference M.011 to Y to allow menu comments.

Run the Provider Menu Comments report for all providers for the month on which you are reporting and review the comments to see how many providers took advantage of the waiver or how many meals were delivered by parent pickup due to the waiver (based on recorded comments). To print this report, click the Reports menu, select Claim Data, and click Provider Menu Notes Report.

Messaging Providers

Minute Menu HX allows you to send Broadcast Messages to all of your providers at once. They can then view these messages in KidKare. To do so:

  1. Click the Tools menu, select Messages, and click Send Broadcast Messages. The Send Broadcast Message window open.
  2. Set your Message Date and Time.
  3. Enter a Subject.
  4. Type your message in the Body box.
  5. Select a Category. If you need to create a new category for messages relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, you can create them. See Manage Provider Message Categories for details.
  6. Click Send Now.

For more detailed instructions on sending Broadcast Messages, see Send Broadcast Messages. For information about messaging individual providers, see Add Messages.

Additional Resources

The following is a list of additional resources regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and CACFP. We will continue to add to this list, as needed.