Whats New With LunchApplication.com?

The New LunchApplication.com

Accepting online free and reduced applications just got simpler, with the new LunchApplication.com from Meals Plus. The site has a fresh, new look with increased accuracy and is mobile responsive, so parents and guardians can easily complete applications on mobile devices. The site walks applicants through the process with easy to follow, step-by-step instructions. And by asking for more detailed, specific income information, you get a better picture of accurate household income.

The site helps applicants calculate wages for each individual, including students. Help documentation is available not just for your district employees, but parents and guardians as well. Pop-up definitions within the application and a search function clarifies required information for parents, the user can enter their hourly pay along with the average hours they work a week and it will calculate their weekly pay. The detailed summary page helps ensure they submit an accurate application. And soon, parents will be able to receive eligibility letters via email, reducing the amount of paperwork you have to do at the school level.

For more information on accepting free or reduced applications online, contact us today!

Happy New (school) Year from Matt at Meals Plus!

Is it a happy new school year or are you drowning in the same old frustrations as this time last year?  Meals Plus can help you save time, money, and effort:

FOOD ORDERS: Get your food orders completed and sent to your vendors quickly and easily using Inventory Management.

ENROLLMENT: Ensure that your enrollment is up-to-date with automated imports from your Student Information System (if you use PowerSchool, it’s even easier with the PowerSchool Connector!).

DIRECT CERTIFICATION: Import your Direct Certification file directly into the system using our Free & Reduced program.

APPLICATIONS: Take the hassle out of entering Free & Reduced applications by having parents submit them online using LunchApplication.com.

MENU PLANNING: Generate a Nutrient Analysis with a button-press, and easily create menus using Menu Planning.

FAST, EASY-TO-USE, POS: Get the students through the line faster and keep track of all your sales with Point of Sale.

STUDENT DEBT: Help keep student balances in the black by having parents prepay for meals online using K12PaymentCenter.com.

REPORTING: When it comes to the end of the month, we have one report on one page that will summarize everything for you (Accountability Management reports and my blog post)!

Email me, matt@mealsplus.com so we can talk about how Meals Plus can help you streamline your food service operation!

Meals Plus Help Desk Statistics: July 2017

“Back to School” season is here, and the Meals Plus Help Desk is ready to provide you the best customer service in child nutrition technology!

Each month, Meals Plus generates random surveys after technical support calls to ensure our customers have the best support experience possible.

Here are the results of July 2017’s surveys, and some highlights from the month:

  • The average time to answer a support call was only 13 seconds.
  • The average talk time with a customer was only 9 minutes and 22 seconds.

Thank you to the Meals Plus Team for their hard work and providing the best customer support in K-12 cafeteria software!

The Meals Plus Team Goes to #ANC17: “You Can Be an Effective Public Speaker”

The Meals Plus Team got the most out of #ANC17 in Hotlanta last month by venturing outside of the Exhibit Hall! We each attended an Education Session to learn how we can help keep your lunchlines moving. This gave us a new appreciation for everything child nutrition professionals do to feed our nation’s children.

Julia Barnette, Product Analyst for Meals Plus, attended the “You Can Be an Effective Public Speaker” Education Session, and these were her favorite takeaways from the session:

  • Organize your presentation. Develop a structure that allows you to frame your 
    objective — cover all relevant material and transition smoothly from topic to topic. Finish strong and look organized. If you don’t look organized, people won’t think you are!
  • Keep an effective structure. Make sure you actually tell your audience what you intend to tell them. Keep it short, relevant and focused.
  • Wrapping up your presentation. Refer back to your introduction and summarize; leave your audience with an idea or purpose; avoid the worst ending to a presentation: “Does anyone have any questions?”
  • Ways to alienate yourself from the audience. Talking about yourself and avoiding contact; not smiling or reading your entire presentation; and using inappropriate sarcasm or humor.
  • The average adult only has an attention span of 30-45 seconds. You must keep your audience entertained!
  • Keys to connecting. Speak to the interest of your audience and make sure to tell stories for use of examples; make eye contact and use names often; and use humor to get the audience involved.

The presentation for this and all of the #ANC17 Education Sessions are available on the  School Nutrition Association’s website. Click to view the presentation, “You Can Be an Effective Public Speaker.

Download Our Free White Paper – “101 Ways to Increase Participation”

101 Ways to Increase Participation 

Every school nutrition staff has the desire to feed all students in its meal program. That can be a challenge, but thanks to the Meals Plus family of school districts and staff even the new families that just move to this district with help of some Tips from Moving Companieshere is a list of 101 Ways to Increase Participation.

Proven techniques to increase participation are simply laid out, in the following categories:

  • Serving line
  • Menu and food
  • Environment
  • Student Involvement
  • Staff
  • Promotions
  • Community and School Involvement
  • Social Media
  • Technology

Click here to download this free white paper!

 

The Meals Plus Team Goes to #ANC17: “Developing a Customer Service-Oriented Team”

The Meals Plus Team got the most out of #ANC17 in Hotlanta last month by venturing outside of the Exhibit Hall! We each attended an Education Session to learn how we can help keep your lunchlines moving. This gave us a new appreciation for everything child nutrition professionals do to feed our nation’s children.

Ellen Bashore, Customer Service Director for Meals Plus, attended the “Developing a Customer Service-Oriented Team” Education Session and these were her favorite takeaways from the session:

  • Customer Service. School nutrition workers want to provide excellent customer service, and delight those they are serving. By identifying who their customers are, and then seeking to provide a high quality of service, this can be achieved.
  • Positive Answers. Ways to present answers in a positive manner were additionally discussed. Students are always asking for the “impossible” (“Can I have two cheeseburgers instead of vegetables?”) You can meet customer needs without saying no. Present options and education as to why it’s better to have an apple.
  • Employee Presentation. Delivering service with a smile and eye contact will allow your customers to feel that you truly care. It shows in your voice and how you carry yourself.
  • Personal Touches. Using individual names in the serving line with a thank you is appreciated. Students like to go to lunch — it’s a break from the classroom. They want to feel welcomed! Even if you mispronounce their name, they will let you know, and the next day you can ask if you said it correctly.
  • Bottom line. School nutrition workers want students to be happy and have a good experience in the cafeteria, and they should truly care about those they are serving.

The presentation for this and all of the #ANC17 Education Sessions are available on the  School Nutrition Association’s website. Click to view the presentation, “Developing a Customer Service-Oriented Team.”

The Meals Plus Team Goes to #ANC17: “Starting Non-Traditional Feeding Programs”

The Meals Plus Team got the most out of #ANC17 in Hotlanta last month by venturing outside of the Exhibit Hall! We each attended an Education Session to learn how we can help keep your lunchlines moving. This gave us a new appreciation for everything child nutrition professionals do to feed our nation’s children.

Margaret Eubank, Account Manager for Meals Plus, attended the “Starting Non-Traditional Feeding Programs” Education Session and these were her favorite takeaways from the session:

  • Summer Feeding Bus.  Cincinnati Public Schools introduced a Summer Feeding Bus for their schools. They took an old school bus, gutted it, added a generator, and were able to serve meals from the bus. The bus worked as a fully functioning kitchen, allowing them to feed 450 kids in about 10 minutes. They were also able to serve during field days or field trips and not lose participation during those events.
  • Vending Machines. Breakfast vending machines are an easy-to-implement alternative feeding program.
  • Golf Carts. Another simple concept was creating golf cart service to serve after school snacks at different sports’ practices and events. Because of this, after school event participation has increased. Pizza parties and turkey trots are excellent additional opportunities for child nutrition to serve at.
  • Small Businesses. Bettie Wiggins, who is the Officer of Nutrition Services for Houston ISD, made a great statement during her presentation. She said, “Treat your department like a small business and not a non-profit. Make money people, increase your revenue, and protect your business base. That’s the ‘why’ behind non-traditional feeding programs.”

The presentation for this and all of the #ANC17 Education Sessions are available on the  School Nutrition Association’s website. Click to view the presentation, “Starting Non-Traditional Feeding Programs.”

Meal Benefit Expiration and Grace Period

Can you believe summer break is almost over? We want to make sure back-to-school is as stress-free as it can be, which includes eliminating technology headaches. One way to stay ahead of the curve for the 2017-2018 school year is setting up your Meal Benefit Expiration and Grace Periods in Meals Plus Free and Reduced. Here are instructions to setup both from our award-winning Meals Plus Help Desk.

Meal Benefit Expiration and Grace Periods are both accessed via the Administration menu, under “Meal Benefit Expiration.”

Students who were approved for free or reduced lunch in a previous school year are allowed a grace period at the beginning of the next year. They are allowed to continue to receive benefits based on last year’s applications for a period of time (usually 30 days) after the new school year begins.

Meal Benefit Expiration (MBE) is used to set up expiration dates for the carry-over statuses for students who do not submit a new lunch application for the new school year.

  • On the expiration date that you specify, all of last year’s status 2 and 3 students that have not been submitted new applications will become status 4 (paid).
  • You can set up multiple expiration dates if you have school calendars with different starting dates (for example, Year Round and Traditional). You only need one MBE date for each starting date in your school calendars.
  • Click Clear to clear the screen to set up a new MBE date.

UPPER GRID – This grid displays the created MBE dates.

  • Highlight a row in the upper grid to select it for editing purposes.
    • UNDEFINED means that an expiration date has not been set for that site. Generally, all sites should be associated with an MBE date.

MIDDLE SECTION

  • Enter a description (Examples: Traditional, Year Round) in the Description text field.
  • Select the expiration date from the Expiration Date text field. It must be a future date.
    • Once the date has passed, it cannot be modified.
  • Select the number of days for the grace for the New Application Grace Period, which applies to students eating off of last year’s status (2 or 3) with the submission of a new application this year.
  • Select the number of days for the grace period for the Modified Application Grace Period for adverse changes with new applications and for modifications to existing applications.
    • This was set to 10-days for the future examples (i.e. Verification Results Input) in this document, per the USDA standard.
    • Beneficial changes are immediate. The grace period only applies to adverse changes.
    • Setting the grace period to 0 will result in the status change happening the next morning. Therefore, you may wish to process your applications accordingly.
  • Select the number of days for the grace period for the Student Transfer from CEP or Prov. 2 Site Grace Period for adverse changes for students transferring from a CEP or Provision 2 site to allow parents/guardians time to submit an application.
    • This was set to 10-days as a default.
    • This is helpful for situations when a student has never had to submit an application before.

LOWER GRID

  • Check the Site Groups or Sites that expire on that date from the lower grid.
    • On Site Groups view, a check means all sites use this date; a square in the checkbox means some but not all sites in the group are assigned to the date.
    • On Sites view, the assigned sites are checked and positioned at top; other sites are unchecked and listed at the bottom.

On the first login to POS, Student Eligibility or Accountability that occurs on or after the expiration date:

  • Students with expired statuses will automatically be set to status 4.
  • No further grace period is allowed and no letters are generated.

After the expiration date, any status changes must be done from Student Eligibility.

  • No status changes will be allowed from POS Account Setup, Imports, or from the Status Change Utility.

For Transfers and Re-enroll of status 5 students from Import:

  • It checks the MBE date for the site the student is transferring or re-enrolling into.
  • If the MBE date has passed for that site, it sets the status to 4 if there is no application on file.

Meal Benefit Expiration Report

This report located under Reports will give a list of students who either had their status changed because of MBE, or are expected to have their status change when the MBE runs.

Meals Plus Help Desk Statistics: May 2017

Meals Plus continues to provide top-notch customer service – and fast!

The Meals Plus Help Desk generates random surveys after each technical support call every month of the year. The results are then analyzed to ensure our customers have the best experience possible.

Here are a couple of the highlights from our May 2017 Customer Satisfaction Survey Results:

  • The average time to answer a support call was only 14 seconds.
  • The average talk time with a customer was just under 10 minutes.

Thank you to the Meals Plus Support Team for their hard work and providing the best customer support in K-12 cafeteria management software!

 

Compliance Confidence in Meals Plus’ School POS System

Hello, Meals Plus Matt here!

Is it true that someone, somewhere always wants a report?  Whether it’s sending the state your monthly claim, reviewing a nutrient analysis, or giving your Finance Department detailed figures, you need reliable data that’s both compliant and is right at your fingertips.  You have plenty of day-to-day tasks to take up your time, so let Meals Plus take all the effort out of routine reports.  No need to take my word for it – these are examples of what our customers say:

“Since our implementation of Meals Plus Student Eligibility, POS, and Accountability, our State Reports are accurate and our monthly claim is easy to process. Our cashiers feel confident in their ability to use the program, which keeps our lunchlines moving faster than they ever have, and our students and parents very happy! :)”
Kim Terry, Food Service Director
River Road Independent School District

“We are so pleased with the system and would never encourage our district to look elsewhere for service. It is so nice to have all of the support and ability to run reports, letters and feel so on top of what is going on in our system.”
Jenny Childers, Secretary
Middletown City Schools

We offer easy-to-use software designed to be simple to implement, easy to learn, and created exclusively for K12 cafeterias.  Along with award-winning support, we can help you keep the lunchlines moving (and clear the paperwork headache!).

Email me, matt@mealsplus.com or contact me here to find out more.  I’m here to serve you!