CACFP COVID-19 Updates
For Karamu Sponsored TN and KY Childcare Providers Only
Message To Our Sponsored Providers
As you are all aware, the worldwide coronavirus outbreak has significantly impacted how we all live. We trust you are each taking proper precautions to protect yourselves, your families, and the children and families that you care for.
Things are changing very quickly in all aspects of our personal and business lives - this includes the CACFP. This page is intended to provide you with the latest guidance we have regarding CACFP operations during this time of national emergency. We've alos included links to a number of resources that we hope you will find useful
Except as noted below, all CACFP rules and regulations are in full effect. Participants should continue to conduct themselves accordingly. As DHS and KDE issue state specific CACFP waivers we will share them with you and provide additional guidance. be sure visit this site regularly for updates.
Please stay safe and prayerful as we all navigate through these very trying times.
CACFP Waivers And Flexibilities
Waiver And Flexibilities Overview
To help maximize the access to nutritious meals while minimizing the potential exposure to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) the USDA has issued a number of waivers to certain rules and regulations that govern the CACFP. While the USDA issues these waivers, it is up to each CACFP state agency to determine which of the waivers they will exercise. The most recent waivers that pertain to the CACFP programs we sponsor are provided below. We've also identified which of our state agencies (Kentucky's DHS and Tennessee's DHS) have chosen to exercise each waiver.
Meal Pattern Waiver (KY & TN)
Both Kentucky and Tennessee have exercised the waiver granted by the USDA to allow CACFP participants to be reimbursed for meals that do not contain all of the components of the meal pattern requirement due to food supply shortages caused by the current health crisis. The USDA expects and strongly encourages providers to maintain and meet the nutrition standards of the program, but they do acknowledge there are situations where limited product availability may prevent providers from purchasing required food components. Under this waiver, providers may be reimbursed for meals that would otherwise be non-compliant due to missing meal components.
In order to apply for the meal pattern requirement waiver, please contact us so we can determine if your situation qualifies. Karamu will accept applications only in those cases where there are shortages of an entire food group; for example if you are unable to buy carrots but you are able to buy peas, corn, or some other type of vegetable to satisfy the vegetable requirement at lunch or supper, then this waiver would not be applicable to you. However, if you are not able to buy any vegetables whatsoever, then this waiver may apply. We are using the vegetable food group as an example here, but if you are unable to find any foods whatsoever in either of the required food groups (vegetable, fruit, meat, or bread) then this waiver would apply. (Be advised there is a separate waiver granted for milk shortages. Details are provided below).
To apply for this waiver, please contact us by e-mail (email@example.com) or by phone (901.327.8401) to request a waiver application.
Parent Pick-up Waiver (TN Only)
Both Kentucky and Tennessee have exercised the waiver granted by the USDA to allow CACFP participants who are approved for the previously published Non-congregate Meals waiver (see details below). The Parent Pick-up waiver allows providers to distribute non-congregate meals to the parents or guardians of the enrolled children without the children having to be present. Providers who apply for this waiver must provide a plan outlining how they will maintain accountability and program integrity. The plan must include details of the process the providers will follow to make sure meals are only distributed to the parents or guardians of enrolled children and that you only distribute a maximum of two meals and one snack per child per day.
To apply for this waiver, please contact us by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone (901.327.8401) to request a waiver application.
Authorization to Serve Non-Congregate Meals (KY and TN)
Both Kentucky and Tennessee have exercised the waiver granted by the USDA to allow CACFP participants to serve meals in a non-congregate setting. This means the CACFP meals you prepare for the children enrolled in your care can be provided "to-go" - meaning the meals can either be picked up by the parents, provided as take-out meals, or you can deliver them to the families yourself.
In order to apply for non-congregate meals, providers must fill out an application and return it to us by e-mail at email@example.com or by fax to 901.327.8405. (Be sure to include your name and KNP number on all correspondence). Once we receive your completed application, we will forward it to the appropriate State Agency for approval. Once approval is granted, we will send you written notification.
To apply for this waiver, please contact us by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone (901.327.8401) to request a waiver application.
Suspension of Meal Service Times (TN Only)
Both Kentucky and Tennessee have exercised the waiver granted by the USDA to suspend meal service times during this public health emergency. With the suspension of meal times, facilities that are granted approval to serve non-congregate meals will be allowed to provide multiple meals (e.g. breakfast, lunch and snack) at the same time. This means you could potentially provide all of your daily approved meals "to-go" at one time during the day.
In order to apply for the suspension of your meal service times, providers must fill out an application and return it to us by e-mail at email@example.com or by fax to 901.327.8405. (Be sure to include your name and KNP number on all correspondence). Once we receive your completed application, we will forward it to the appropriate State Agency for approval. Once approval is granted, we will send you written notification.
At-Risk Afterschool (ARAS) Educational Activity Waiver (TN Only)
CACFP At-Risk Afterschool (ARAS) institutions in both Kentucky and Tennessee are not required to provide educational or enrichment activities during this public health emergency. This will allow the institutions to continue serving the community while complying with required or recommended social distancing guidelines.
In order to apply for the suspension of the requirement to provide ARAS educational / enrichment activities, providers must fill out an application and return it to us by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by fax to 901.327.8405. (Be sure to include your name and KNP number on all correspondence). Once we receive your completed application, we will forward it to the appropriate State Agency for approval. Once approval is granted, we will send you written notification.
CACFP Allowances For Milk Shortages (TN)
Existing federal regulations allow state agencies to make allowances for shortages of milk in times of national emergency. The state of Tennessee has released guidance on how it will deal with milk shortages. This guidance is for participating CACFP facilities in Tennessee only and is effective immediately; we have not yet received any specific guidance from Kentucky.
If participating facilities are unable to buy enough or the correct types of milk, they need to document the attempted date of purchase, store name, amount/type of milk they tried to purchase, and the amount/type of milk they were able to purchase. The facility must also document the number of meals (breakfasts, lunches, and suppers) that had to be served without the required quantities or type of milk. This information is to be collected and sent to the sponsor on a weekly basis. Sponsors will forward the information to DHS weekly.
What You Must Do To Apply
Click here to download the Record of Unavailability Of Milk form we've created. This form can be saved to your computer and filled out electronically or printed and filled out on paper. The instructions for completing the form are included on the 2nd page. This form must be completed by child care Home providers (both licensed and unlicensed), child care centers, and At Risk After School centers that are not able to purchase the required quantities or types of milk required by the CACFP. The form must be submitted to Karamu each time you attempt to buy milk and are not able to.
Once we receive the form, we will notify DHS and request authorization for you to serve a limited number of meals without milk. Once we receive the authorization, we will send you written approval and will provide you with a second form we've created, the Record of Authorized Meals Served Without Milk. This form will be used to record the number of authorized meals you serve during the week that do not include milk based on the authorization you received. You will be required to fill this form out and submit it to us at the end of the week.
The forms you submit will be used in processing your monthly claim for reimbursement and will allow meals served without milk to be reimbursed.
Even if you are granted authorization to serve meals without milk, all other CACFP required meal components must be served and documented on your menu in order for meals to be reimbursed. There has been no guidance issued regarding food shortages or infant formula shortages.
Due to the difficulty we are having in updating or creating applications whenever a new waiver is published, we have removed the waiver applications from this notice and instead we are asking that providers contact us by e-mail (email@example.com) or by phone (901.327.8401) to request a waiver application.
Note: Meals provided under an approved waiver may only be served to the children that are properly enrolled for care in your facility. For At-Risk sites, meals are limited to the participants and geographical area you normally serve. Providers will be required to report all meals that are served under any waivers they are approved for.
Unless noted otherwise, approved waivers will be effective until June 30th, 2020 or upon expiration of the federally declared public health emergency, whichever is earlier.
Childcare Licensing Waivers & Flexibilities
Tennessee Governor Issued Executive Order Allowing DHS To Loosen Child Care Licensing Rules
Governor Bill Lee has issued executive order number 14 which suspends, to the extent necessary, provisions of the laws governing childcare licensing in Tennessee. This order grants the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Human Services the discretion to waive certain childcare license requirements in order to respond to the effects of the COVID-19 crisis. Some providers have already received written approval from licensing to temporarily care for more children than their license allows. Licensed providers should contact their Program Evaluator for additional details. Click here to visit the DHS Licensing website.
We are not certain yet how this order will impact unlicensed childcare providers. As soon as we receive guidance we will pass it along to you.
Kentucky Governor Orders Kentucky Childcare Facilities To Close
Governor Andy Beshear ordered all child care facilities in Kentucky to cease operations as of close of business Friday, March 20th. For more information on the closing, click here to view a video published by the Frankfurt DCBS Division of Childcare. Be sure to contact your licensing representative if you have any questions. Click here to visit the CHFS Division of Regulated Child Care website.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
I am a Tennessee provider licensed for 7. Since school is out and we have our school children in care all day, can I claim my 7 preschoolers plus an additional 5 school agers for a total of 12 children?"Although DHS licensing allows licensed providers to care for 7 children plus up to five additional related children, the CACFP limits licensed provider to claiming meals for 7 children plus up to five additional children who must live in the household and be qualified for CACFP participation based on income. We have asked DHS if they are granting an exception to this rule. We will share the response as soon as we receive it. In the interim, you will only be reimbursed for meals served to 7 enrolled children plus up to an additional 5 children who must live in your household and must be income qualified
Currently I am closed voluntarily. I plan to reopen on April 1st.At that time, will I continue logging meals as normal and if so, is CACFP/Karamu still providing reimbursement during COVID19?"Once you reopen it will be business as usual with the exception of all of the waiver options that are available at that time. The USDA is committed to making sure food is available during the crisis and that includes through the CACFP. We will continue to process and reimburse claims as usual.
I want to know what do I need to do in order to get approved for take-out meals.Please see waiver application information above.
If you are a Tennessee unlicensed provider limited to caring for four children, are you able to care for additional children now? "The rules for Tennessee's unlicensed providers are determined by the DHS CACFP office instead of the DHS licensing office. As soon as the DHS CACFP Director provides us guidance, we will be sure to share it with you. In the interim, all rules and regulations governing unlicensed homes are still in full effect. Unlicensed providers are still limited to caring for a maximum of four children.
Will food monitors make regularly scheduled visits, during this pandemic crisis, due to social distancing?"Karamu is currently limiting site inspections to those inspections that absolutely must be performed in order to maintain compliance with USDA requirements. Keep in mind that current regulations require sponsored facilities to allow Karamu staff (and other CACFP representatives) into their facility during normal operating hours. Of course, we are mindful of our obligation to help protect and respect the health and safety of our employees, providers, and the children and families you care for.
Does the pick-up waiver only apply to children who have been in regular attendance prior to the crisis? Do we need to call the parents to come and still pick up their meals?The Parent Pick-up waiver is used in conjunction with the Non-congregate Meal waiver. These waivers are used to serve meals to children who are properly enrolled in your care; meaning you have a valid enrollment application on file. You are still limited to serving meals up to your maximum allowed capacity. Under the non-congregate waiver, you can select to have the meals picked-up, taken-out, or you could choose to deliver the meals yourself. The Parent-pickup waiver will allow you to have the parents or guardian pick-up the meals from you without the children having to accompany them. Similarly, you will be allowed to deliver the meals to the parents or guardians without being required to actually see the children. If you are approved for the Non-congregate Meals and Parent Pick-up waivers, we suggest you contact the families you are considering serving before you prepare meals for distribution. You should be sure that the parents are willing to accept the meals before you prepare them since you will only be reimbursed for meals that you actually distribute to enrolled participants.
The Tennessee governor is asking for providers to provide childcare for the children of designated essential personnel. The governor has asked that this care be made available all hours and all shifts. Can we claim these children (during these pandemic times) for all shifts, or just the meal time shifts we have on our contract application?"You are permitted to claim meals for any meal types and shifts you are currently approved for as long as you do not exceed your approved capacity. If you need to add a meal or shift in order to support essential personnel, please contact us. Meals and shifts can only be added if they are within the guidelines established for licensing and by the CACFP - to include any waivers you may have been granted approval for.
Will I be able to e-mail my meal attendance for March ?Providers may send their March claims to us (as well as all future claims) using the methods they normally use; however, we want to avoid postal mail as much as possible just in case Karamu's employees are forced to work from home and we are not able to go into the office to check the mailbox. For childcare Homes that normally send their claims to us by postal mail, we highly suggest you consider using fax, e-mail, or submitting your claim to us online using Kidkare. If you need training on Kidkare online claiming, please let us know. For childcare centers that normally complete their claims on paper and are required to use postal mail to send their original attendance and meal count forms to us because you use the Minute Menu attendance sheets (with the four black squares on each corner); we highly encourage you to enter your March claim online into Kidkare or Minute Menu and transmit it to us electronically. For your April claim (and all future claims pending further notice) we are requiring you to use online claiming or our traditional claim paperwork which we will send to you instead of the Minute Menu paperwork. If you need training on how to use online claiming or the traditional claim paperwork, please contact us. For those childcare centers and homes that already submit your attendance and meal counts online, but you complete other claim documents (menus, claim certification forms, etc.) on paper and send them to us by postal mail, we highly encourage you to send us these documents by fax or e-mail instead of postal mail.
Will this pandemic delay reimbursement checks in the coming months?The USDA has made it very clear through various correspondence that they intend to make sure that children who normally receive free meals whether in the school lunch program or the Child and Adult Care Food program, will continue to have free meals available to them during this crisis. At present, neither the USDA, DHS, or KDE have given us any reason to believe meal reimbursements will be delayed in the coming months.
How should an At Risk Afterschool site maintain attendance and meal counts for the drive thru meal service?Meal counts will be maintained as usual. Attendance can be taken by one staff person asking and recording the names and ages of the participants. You do not have to pass pens and paper back and forth for signatures.
If a center had an overage of milk carryover from February to March when should the center start declaring unavailable milk for March?You can fill out the milk shortage declaration form as soon as you try to buy milk and are not able to buy the quantities or types that you need. You do not have to wait until you use up the inventory you have now. Once the waiver is granted, you’ll have to tell us which meals had milk and which meals did not. This is how the current inventory will be accounted for.
I am having trouble finding bread, whole grain rich foods, CN labeled foods, and other staple items I normally serve. Am I allowed to serve non-creditable food items?"Please refer to the Meal Pattern Requirement waiver under the CACFP Waivers and Flexibilities section of this web page.
My local school district is distributing free school meals to the people in my community. They gave me enough lunches to cover all of the children in my daycare. Can I claim these meals for reimbursement?To date there has been no guidance issued to make allowances for donated food items. The CACFP remains a reimbursing program and providers are required to purchase all required food items in order to be reimbursed. Keep in mind that existing regulations do allow for meals to be reimbursed if a parent provides a maximum of one item and the provider purchases all of the other food items.
If Karamu staff are prohibited from coming to work how will my March claim get processed?In the event of a shelter-in-place order by local, state or federal government officials, Karamu is prepared to continue to provide full support to our providers via phone, e-mail, Dropbox, and other means of communications. We are also equipped to process enrollments, income eligibility applications and most claims that are submitted to us either by fax, e-mail, Dropbox, or online using Kidkare or Minute Menu. For childcare centers and homes who submit your claims on paper, now is the time to familiarize yourself with online claiming. We also highly suggest everyone consider moving to e-Forms to allow you to collect and submit income applications and enrollment electronically.
I am an unlicensed alternately approved childcare home provider in Tennessee. How does the governor's order allowing relaxation of licensing rules impact me? Can I care for more than four children?We currently have not received any guidance from DHS on how this rule will be applied to unlicensed childcare providers. The rules for unlicensed providers are determined by DHS' CACFP office instead of DHS' licensing office. As soon as the DHS CACFP Director provides us guidance, we will be sure to share it with you. In the interim, all rules and regulations governing unlicensed homes are still in full effect.
I am a family daycare provider approved to serve meals to my own children. Am I still able to claim my own children even though I am serving non-congregate meal?Yes. You are still allowed to claim meals served to qualified children who live in your household even though you are claiming non-congregate meals with no meal time restrictions. You are still limited to claiming 2 meals and 1 snack per child per day.
Do I still have to maintain attendance, meals counts, menus and other claim documents even though I am approved to serve non-congregate meals without meal time restrictions?"Yes. The requirement to maintain claims documentation has not changed. All meals you serve must be properly documented and claims are still due by the 3rd.
My daycare is officially closed . Can I still provide non-congregate meals to the children enrolled in my care even though they are not presently attending care each day?Yes. Once you are approved for non-congregate meals you will be allowed to prepare, serve, and claim meals for your properly enrolled children even if they are not in your care. The parents will need to pick up the meals once they are ready or you can deliver the meals to the families.
Things You Can Do
Many providers have asked are there things they can do right now to help us better serve them and other childcare providers during this crisis. The answer is a resounding "yes"! Below are a few of the things that you can do to help.
Submit Your Claims for Reimbursement Online: Claiming online gives Karamu's staff the ability to continue to receive and process claims even if we are forced to work from home. Go to www.Kidkare.com. If you need your Kidkare username and password, please contact us. For childcare centers, you can also use Kidkare for online claiming or you can use Minute Menu. Your login credentials for both apps is the same. For more information on Kidkare see the links below.
Submit Your Enrollments and Income Applications Online using e-Forms: Childcare homes and centers can submit enrollment applications and income applications (for centers) online using e-Forms which is available in the Kidkare app. By using e-Forms you can have parents enroll or re-enroll children and fill out income eligibility applications electronically using any computer or mobile app. E-Forms completely eliminates the need to use paper enrollment applications or paper income applications (for childcare centers). e-Forms affords us the opportunity to continue to receive and process documents even in a work-from-home environment.
If you are a childcare home, e-Forms is already available for use in Kidkare. If you are a childcare center, please contact us and we will activate it for you in minutes. For more information on e_Forms, please see the links below.
Take Advantage of This Time To Cleanup And Organize: Now's a good time to get your CACFP house in order. While you are busy cleaning and sanitizing, take some time to clean up your CACFP records too. Consider taking time to check your enrollment rosters and drop children that have been out of your care for a while. It's also a good time for some centers to come up with a better process for collecting and sending their receipts to us each month. be creative and tackle all of those CACFP things on your to-do list that you just haven't been able to get around to.
Karamu Operations and Contingencies
Office Hours: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM central time.
Office Visitor Restrictions: Karamu’s Clarksville and Memphis offices are closed to visitors pending further notice. If you need to drop off documents, please use the designated drop boxes. Our staff will continue to report to work as usual and will be available to provide phone and e-mail support to you as needed.
Site Inspections: The government recently announced some flexibility when it comes to performing site inspections. While the rules do not completely waive the requirement to conduct site inspections, it does temporarily reduce the number of minimum inspections that must be performed. Karamu is currently limiting site inspections to those inspections that absolutely must be performed in order to maintain compliance with USDA requirements. Keep in mind that current regulations require sponsored facilities to allow Karamu staff (and other CACFP representatives) into their facility during normal operating hours. Of course, we are mindful of our obligation to help protect and respect the health and safety of our employees, providers, and the children and families you care for.
Shelter-In-Place Operations: As stated above in the frequently asked questions, in the event a shelter-in-place order is issued that prevents our staff from coming to the office, we are equipped to continue operations in a work-from-home environment. We will be able to continue to perform tasks such as processing enrollments, income eligibility applications and claims that are submitted to us either by fax, e-mail, Dropbox, or online using Kidkare or Minute Menu. For childcare centers and homes who submit your claims on paper, now is the time to familiarize yourself with online claiming. We also highly suggest everyone consider moving to e-Forms to allow you to collect and submit income applications and enrollments electronically.