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!

Meals Plus Help Desk Statistics: April 2018

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

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 April 2018’s surveys, and some highlights from the month:

  • The average time to answer a support call was only 10 seconds.
  • The average talk time with a customer was only 11 minutes and 50 seconds.

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

Meals Plus Help Desk Statistics: March 2018

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

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 March 2018’s surveys, and some highlights from the month:

  • The average time to answer a support call was only 9 seconds.
  • The average talk time with a customer was only 13 minutes and 2 seconds.

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

Meals Plus Help Desk Statistics: February 2018

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

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 January 2018’s surveys, and some highlights from the month:

  • The average time to answer a support call was only 12 seconds.
  • The average talk time with a customer was only 12 minutes and 19 seconds.

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

Meals Plus Help Desk Statistics: January 2018

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

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 January 2018’s surveys, and some highlights from the month:

  • The average time to answer a support call was only 14 seconds.
  • The average talk time with a customer was only 10 minutes and 8 seconds.

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

Meals Plus Help Desk Statistics: November 2017

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

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 November 2017’s surveys, and some highlights from the month:

  • The average time to answer a support call was only 51 seconds.
  • The average talk time with a customer was only 10 minute and 27 seconds.

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

Meals Plus Help Desk Statistics: September 2017

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

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 September 2017’s surveys, and some highlights from the month:

  • The average time to answer a support call was only 39 seconds.
  • The average talk time with a customer was only 1 minute and 41 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 Help Desk’s 2016 Report Card is In!

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

The Meals Plus Help Desk is excited to report yet another successful year with our 2016 performance statistics, including those provided by Meals Plus customer survey feedback.

The average time to answer a support call in 2016 was only 44 seconds. That’s right – even including July and August numbers, when call volume increases six-fold, Meals Plus customer calls in 2016 were answered in less than a minute on average! And as for time spent on the call, 97.8% of our customers said they were happy with how long it took to get to a resolution.  So, your call is answered in seconds and you quickly get to the resolution you need.

And the results of our random post-support call survey speak for themselves! On a scale of 1-5 with 5 being very satisfied, Meals Plus customers rated their satisfaction on the following:

  • The courtesy of the Technical Account Specialist: 4.93
  • The technical skills/knowledge of the Technical Account Specialist: 4.86
  • The timeliness of the service provided: 4.89
  • The quality of the service provided: 4.88
  • The overall service experience: 4.87

To learn more about our award-winning help desk, visit our “About Us” page!

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Meet the Meals Plus Support Team – Gordon

Get to know the members of the Meals Plus Technical Support Staff! Gordon is a Technical Account Specialist, so if you call the Meals Plus Help Desk or receive onsite training for your school lunchroom software, Gordon may be the one to provide you with excellent customer support.

lunch_program_in_schoolThe Dish: How long have you been with Meals Plus?
Gordon: I have been with Meals Plus since January 2015.

TD: What duties does your position entail?
G: As a member of the Help Desk, I am responsible for assisting Meals Plus Customers both on the phones and in person.

TD: What do you like most about working with Meals Plus?
G: I enjoy helping people solve puzzles, so I enjoy finding solutions for our customers.

TD: What do you like doing in your free time?
G: Photography is my current hobby, but I get a new hobby about every six months. In the last two years, those include: origami, ukulele, cooking, board games and puzzles. Also, I like to climb the world’s smallest mountains.

TD: What was your favorite meal when you were in school?
G: Corn dogs!

For more on the Meals Plus Support Team, click here!

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