10 Steps to Start the Year Strong (Including a FREE Printable Back-to-School Checklist)

Summer is quickly coming to a close. Soon a rush of hungry students will be in your line waiting for a nutritious and delicious meal in a timely manner. Are you ready? The back-to-school season can be stressful and exciting. At Meals Plus we want to make it as easy as possible for you to get your lunchline moving again! The following tips are a guideline for starting the year off right. We have even provided a FREE printable checklist for your convenience.

1.  Make sure your point of sale and all hardware are up and running.

It is highly recommended that you turn your machines on and ensure they’re running two weeks prior to starting service. By getting a jump start on this you can arrange necessary repairs or replacements if needed. Also be sure to verify all of your external hardware is in shape. Test printers, keypads, scanners, etc. to ensure no upgrades need to be made before the first day of school.

2.  Make sure your Meals Plus software is ready to go.

There are a few simple steps for getting your system set up for the new year. In Meals Plus, verify your current fiscal year. Verify ‘Database Version’ and ‘Auto Update’ status in Control File. Review User Group and User Setup where you can add new cashiers and assign sites and items as needed.

3.  Add new students and delete non-current students.

Import students for the new fiscal year by manually importing a student file or set up Auto Transfer Settings for automatic nightly imports. If your system integrates with PowerShools, VendorLink, or Aeries, click the ‘Enable PowerSchool/VendorLink/Aeries Integration’ box under System Management > Administration > Auto Transfer Settings > PowerSchool/ VendorLink /Aeries tab. If we host your database, contact Meals Plus Support and use nightly imports. To delete students who have graduated or transferred districts, run ‘Delete Non-Current Students’ at least 90 days AFTER the beginning of the school year to remove old student accounts. After doing this you will want to Archive POS History for previous fiscal years.

4.  Verify Free & Reduced Eligibility and Manage Applications.

Start by downloading income brackets for the new fiscal year. Then, set the ‘Meal Benefit Expiration Date’, the ‘New App/Modifier App’, and the ‘Student Transfer from EP or Pov. 2 Site’ grace periods for all sites. Review and modify ‘Letter Setup’ and ‘Language Setup’ as needed and set up the ‘Verification Configuration’ screen. Finally, run the ‘Direct Certification/Exempt’ utility after a new student import to identify direct certified students.

5.  Update Inventory.

Make sure your inventory is up-to-date by importing or creating new items, reviewing packaging, updating current bid prices, and updating vendor information as needed. Review and update Account Categories and Groups as needed.

6.  Update employee data and set up time clock.

Have you had any new hires or employees leave your district? Start updating employee data by setting up a new School Calendar for the new school year. Review and edit as needed your Leave Setup, Job Setup, Certification Class Setup, and Request Setup. Add new employees and review and edit current employee data as needed.

7.  Update Menus.

Are you spicing things up this year with some new recipes? After creating a new School Calendar for the new year, review and update ingredients, recipes, reimbursable meals, and cycle menus. Calculate costs of ingredients when used in recipes and usage of inventory items by going to Inventory > Administration > Item Maintenance > Menu Costing.

8.  Make sure K12PaymentCenter and Lunch Application are set up.

If you use K12PaymentCenter for online payments you will want to verify that the Meals Plus service is running. Check the EMS log for errors and the Payment Reports for ‘unapplied payments’. If you use LunchApplication.com be sure to review and edit ‘District Info’, add and edit ‘Users’, and review and edit ‘Household Letter Setup’ as needed. If you disabled Lunch Application for the summer, contact Meals Plus Support to enable LAP.

9.  Plan program promotions for the year.

With all the things Nutrition Directors must worry about throughout the year, promotions often get put on the back burner. Promoting your program is essential to increase participation. Starting now and looking ahead to the rest of the year is a great way to get a jump on promoting your program. To learn more about promoting your school nutrition program, request to download the whitepapers, 101 Ways to Increase Participation and The 5 P’s of Promoting Your School Meal Program.

10.  Contact Meals Plus Support if you need help!

At Meals Plus we understand that the beginning of the school year can be hectic. We would like to help make it as easy as possible. Login to the Meals Plus Support site to access documents, webinars, and videos to guide you. We are also always available to help Monday through Friday from 7:30 am to 7:00 pm. Just give us a call at 800-541-8999 and you will speak to a real person who understands your issues and is excited to help work through it.

Here at Meals Plus, we are so excited to start a new school year with you! For your convenience, we have provided a FREE printable Back-to-School Checklist to help you start the year strong! If you’re looking to start the year with a new cafeteria management system, request a free demo now and discover why thousands of school districts trust Meals Plus to keep their lunchlines moving!

Happy National Nutrition Month!

As a part of the nutrition community, Meals Plus wants to highlight all of the available resources; to help make National Nutrition Month a success!

The Meals Plus Customer Cookbook, editions, 2015, 2016 and 2017, are filled with the most popular recipes from school cafeterias across the country in an effort to help increase participation in the lunchroom, while still meeting USDA meal pattern regulations.

Now that you have new healthy recipes, we want to help you promote them with marketing strategies to be more effective within your school meal program:

The Five P’s of Promoting Your School Meal Program examines Product, Placement, Promotion, Price, and People. While 101 Ways to Increase Participation lays out 101 simple participation techniques provided by the Meals Plus family of school districts and their staff.

For more free resources visit our whitepaper library

 

 

 

 

 

[Free Download] 2017 Meals Plus Customer Cookbook

To show our appreciation our Meals Plus Customers, we have published our 2017 Meals Plus Customer Cookbook! This free cookbook is filled with over 40 popular recipes in an effort to help increase participation in the lunchroom, while still meeting USDA meal pattern regulations. It also includes creative promotional ideas and award-winning recipes from student cooking competitions from Middletown City Schools (OH) and Lexington School District One (SC). 

Hard copies are available for purchase at cost. Email recipes@mealsplus.com for more information. You can also download the cookbook completely free, here!

Would you like to submit a recipe for our 2018 Customer Cookbook? Email them to recipes@mealsplus.com. You can submit as many recipes as you’d like, and we welcome photos of your dishes.

Thank you for being a part of the Meals Plus Family, and Happy Holidays!

Coming Soon: The 2017 Meals Plus Customer Cookbook!

To show our appreciation to YOU – our Meals Plus Customers – we are publishing our third edition of the ‘Meals Plus Customer Cookbook’! This free cookbook will be filled with the most popular recipes from school cafeterias across the country in an effort to help increase participation in the lunchroom, while still meeting USDA meal pattern regulations. It will also include creative promotional ideas, Meals Plus software tips, and more!

Click to download the 2015 and 2016 Meals Plus Customer Cookbooks.

Where’s Graham? He Joined Staff Development Day!

Graham with Ashley Summers, Marketing Specialist (left), and Kathleen Moss, Field Supervisor (right), at Lexington High School, for their Food Service and Nutrition training.

Lexington County School District 1 (SC) Food Service and Nutrition employees enjoyed a week of training, and learning how they can better serve students and promote their school meal program. Congratulations to the schools that got “Grahamed” and received a plush Graham doll, for thinking of new and fun ways to market your child nutrition program in the cafeteria!

Meals Plus wants to help you increase participation in your cafeterias this year. You may have seen some of our resources in the past, including informational white papers and the annual Meals Plus Customer Cookbook. For the past two years, we have collected our customers’ most popular lunchroom recipes and compiled them into a complete child nutrition cookbook to share with our customers. Similarly, we now want to share ways to increase participation in your lunchrooms, and have created an encyclopedia of ways to promote your program. Download your free copy of “101 Ways to Increase Participation” today!

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!

 

Feature Your Students’ Favorite Recipes in the 2017 Child Nutrition Cookbook

For the third year in a row, Meals Plus is collecting students’ favorite recipes from Meals Plus customers and child nutrition departments from across the country and compiling them into a child nutrition cookbook!

Each Meals Plus customer will receive one free copy of the cookbook, and an electronic copy will be available to download on our website in the Fall of 2017.

We invite you to be a part of the 2017 Child Nutrition Cookbook! Send the most popular recipes from your district that help increase participation to recipes@mealsplus.com and we will take care of the rest.

Click to download the 2015 and 2016 Meals Plus Customer Cookbooks.

Grand Slam-wich Recipe That Will Hit the Spot!

This Pork Marinara Sandwich is one of the lunch recipes from the 2016 Meals Plus Child Nutrition Cookbook, which you can download here. The cookbook includes recipes from Meals Plus Customers and school breakfast recipes using USDA foods. Its hard to beat a recipe this good!

Pork Marinara Sandwich
Submitted by: Asheboro City Schools

Yields: 1
Serving Size: 1 Sandwich
Food Group Components: 2.5 oz. eq. grain, 2 oz. eq. meat/meat alternative
Recipe Type: Entree
Allergens: Milk, Egg, Soy, Wheat

Ingredients:

1 each – country fried pork steak, frozen, 3.1 oz.
2 oz. – #10 can, Furmanos 10335 ,marinara sauce
1 oz. – lite shredded mozzarella cheese, frozen
1 – bun WW, hamburger bun

Directions:

  1. Place frozen pork chop on a lined full size sheet pan, do not stack.
  2. Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for 8-10 minutes or until pork reaches 165°F for at least 15 seconds. CCP: Heat to 165° F or higher for at least 15 seconds
  3. Wipe top of can lid with a clean towel and open. Pour into a 1/2-4″deep hotel pan and heat up in the oven for 10 minutes or until hot.
  4. During service, place 1 pork chop on bottom of bun and top with 2 oz. of marinara and 1oz of cheese. Place crown of bun on top.CCP: Hold at 135° F or higher.

Nutrients per serving:

Calories – 481
Chol (mg) – 105.91
Sodium (mg) – 1046.96
Fiber (gm) – 3.94
Iron (mg) – 4.35
Calc (mg) – 280.41
Vit A (IU) – 337.28
Vit C (mg) – 1.12
Protein (gm) – 26.57
Carb (gm) – 47.85
Tot Fat (gm) – 19.85
Sat Fat (gm) – 6.49
Sugars (gm) – 8.26
Trans Fat (gm) – 0.00*

K12_Cafeteria_Menus

 

Featured Meals Plus Customer Recipe: Mediterranean Pita

Meals Plus enjoys sharing recipes that help keep your lunchlines moving! You can find this recipe and more in our 2016 Meals Plus Customer Cookbook here and Meals Plus Menu Planning Customers can share recipes in the cloud via the Community Cookbook. 

Lexington_child_Nutrition-768x512This recipe comes from last year’s Lexington One Cooks! Competition from Lexington School District One (SC).  This recipe is from Sydney Bell, the Grand Prize Winner & First Place Winner from the Middle School Division. We hope your students enjoy it as much as the students at Lexington One!

Mediterranean Pita

Ingredients:

1 + 1/2 tsp. ‐ hummus
1/4 tsp. ‐ ground black pepper, spices, 6/18 oz.; as purchased
1/4 c.+ 1 tbsp. chopped + 4/5 tsp. chopped ‐ Iceberg lettuce
1 tbsp. ‐ chopped raw onion
1 tsp. ‐ cilantro, fresh herb washed and destemmed
4 oz. ‐ frozen chicken breast, ready to cook, boneless skinless chicken breast; as purchased
1/4 tsp. ‐ ground black pepper, spices, 6/18 oz.; as purchased
1 tbsp. ‐ chopped or sliced tomatoes, red, ripe, raw, Year round average.
1 ‐ large pita, whole‐wheat pita bread

Directions:
CCP: Wash fresh fruits & vegetables under cold running water.
CCP: Wash, rinse, and sanitize all food contact surfaces.
CCP: Wash hands properly before beginning food preparations.
1. Chop onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and lettuce. Set aside.
CCP: Change gloves and wash hands properly before next task
CCP: Cook raw chicken to 165°
2. Season diced chicken with salt and pepper then cook in a skillet over medium heat until chicken is heated through.
3. Cut pita in half and spread hummus inside. Fill each half of the pita with chopped vegetables, chicken and cheese. Finish by squeezing fresh lime juice over top.

Yields: 2
Serving Size: 1 pita
Food Group Components: 1 oz. eq. grain, 2 oz. eq. meat/meat alternative
Recipe Type Entree
Additional Notes: Each serving is 1/2 of filled pita pocket.
Allergens: Soybeans
Nutrients per serving: Calories ‐ 163.961 Chol (mg) ‐ 28.330 Sodium (mg) ‐413.908 Fiber (gm) ‐ 2.997 Iron (mg) ‐ 1.533 Calc (mg) ‐ 21.983 Vit A (IU) ‐ 156.594 Vit C (mg) ‐ 7.317 Protein (gm) ‐ 14.179 Carb (gm) ‐ 19.974 Tot Fat (gm) ‐ 3.531 Sat Fat (gm) ‐ 0.718 Sugars (gm) ‐ 0.167* Trans Fat (gm) ‐ 0.000*

[Free Download] 2016 Meals Plus Customer Cookbook

school-pos-systemTo show our appreciation our Meals Plus Customers, we have published our 2016 Meals Plus Customer Cookbook! This free cookbook is filled with over 50 popular recipes in an effort to help increase participation in the lunchroom, while still meeting USDA meal pattern regulations. It also includes creative promotional ideas and award-winning recipes from student cooking competitions from Middletown City Schools (OH) and Lexington School District One (SC).

Each school district has received one free copy, and additional copies are available for purchase at-cost. Email recipes@mealsplus.com for more information. You can also download the cookbook completely free, here!

Would you like to submit a recipe for our 2017 Customer Cookbook? Email them to recipes@mealsplus.com. You can submit as many recipes as you’d like, and we welcome photos of your dishes.

Thank you for being a part of the Meals Plus Family, and Happy Holidays!

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