CACFP Operations During The Coronavirus COVID-19 Emergency
Karamu Nutrition Program
Dear Karamu Providers:

In March of this year, the COVID-19 virus forced many Tennessee and Kentucky childcare providers to abruptly close their doors temporarily. In the weeks and months since then, our nation has suffered through the horrors of the pandemic, the drastic decline of the economy, and social unrest that rivals the 1960's civil rights era. Through it all, our sponsored providers have persevered even as many of you have been personally impacted in one way or another. We admire you for your fighting spirit and we applaud each of you for being what you have always been; front-line essential workers who have always risen to the task of serving the families that count on you so desperately. We are thankful for you and we are so very proud to be able to serve you.

Please see below for various items related to CACFP operations during this time of national crisis. There have been a number of changes since our last update to include the release of a number of key reports, a one year extension of most COVID related CACFP waivers, and we've laid out a strategy for our annual training. If you have any questions about any of the information provided, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Thanks and stay safe, everyone!

Dr. Vera Corley-Sims
Founder, Executive Director
Karamu Nutrition Program Inc.
COVID-19 Impacts on Childcare
National / International Reporting
By the Numbers - COVID Impacts on Childcare
The Child Care Relief campaign is a broad coalition of organizations committed to representing the many needs and perspectives of America’s childcare system. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on childcare. The campaign's mission is to show the nation that our economic recovery and long-term well-being will depend on childcare. With that in mind, they have published data at the state level which shows how the childcare industry has been directly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Click the link below to access data for your state. For access to data for all states click on the image to the left.

Childcare Impact On Parent's Ability to Return to Work
In June 2020, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation surveyed working parents from across the country to understand the impact that childcare has on their ability to return to work. Click here to access the report.
COVID Impacts on CACFP Sponsors
Recently, a group of distinguished CACFP organizations released the results of a national survey they conducted on the impacts COVID-19 has had on CACFP sponsors. The survey results can be accessed by clicking here. Although some of the results may seem dire, we're happy to report that Karamu remains financially viable and we are confident in our ability to continue to serve our providers during this crisis.
CACFP Waivers
Update icon orange button
The four USDA COVID related waivers listed below have been extended until June 30th, 2021. These waivers are applicable to both Tennessee and Kentucky childcare providers. To operate under any of these waivers, you must have an approved waiver application on file with us. Instructions for submitting a waiver application are provided below.

NOTE: If you were already operating under any of these waivers, your waiver approval was set to expire on or before June 30th of this year. If you would like to have your waiver approval extended, please let us know. For those requesting waiver extensions for milk or food shortages under the Meal Pattern Waiver, you must submit a new waiver application to extend your waiver.
Meal Pattern Requirement Waiver

This waiver allows CACFP participants to be reimbursed for meals that do not contain all the components of the meal pattern requirement due to milk and 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.
Authorization to Serve Non-Congregate Meals

This waiver allows CACFP participants to serve meals in a non-congregate setting. Under this waiver, the CACFP meals you prepare for the children enrolled in your care can be provided "to-go" - meaning the meals can be provided as take-out meals to be sent home with the children or, in the case where enrolled children are not in regular attendance, meals can be delivered to the children or picked up by the parents.
Update icon orange button
To protect the confidentiality of the families served, USDA guidelines require you to receive written consent from the parents or guardians confirming that they want meals delivered to their homes. USDA guidelines stipulate that delivery is only an option for sites that have enrolled children such as childcare centers and family daycare homes - it is not an option for ARAS sites.
Parent Pick-up Waiver

This waiver allows CACFP participants who are approved for the Non-congregate Meals waiver 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.
Meal Service Time Waiver

This waiver suspends the requirement that CACFP meals must be served according to a set meal schedule. With the suspension of meal times, facilities that are granted approval to serve non-congregate meals are allowed to provide multiple meals (e.g. breakfast, lunch and snack) at the same time. This means you could potentially provide all your daily approved meals "to-go" at one time during the day.
Waiver Applications

To apply for any of these waivers (or to extend a current waiver approval) please click here to fill out the waiver application. if you have any questions, please contact us by e-mail ( or by phone (901.327.8401).

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 may 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, 2021 or upon expiration of the federally declared public health emergency, whichever is earlier.
Helpful Guidance On Providing Multiple Meals At One Time Under CACFP Waivers

Please be sure to check out this USDA provided instructional guide on how to safely prepare and package meals to be distributed under the non-congregate waiver.

USDA Grants Sponsors Flexibility In Performing Site Inspections
Sponsors May Opt to Use Remote Desk Reviews to Conduct Visits

Earlier this year, the USDA granted sponsors a temporary waiver that allowed us to conduct fewer site inspections than are normally required. This is why we conducted very few inspections between the months of March and June. That waiver will soon expire; however, in its' place, the USDA has granted CACFP sponsors the flexibility to perform all required site visits via what's commonly referred to as a "desk review". A desk review is a site inspection that's conducted remotely whether by phone, the exchange of pictures, live streaming video, or even an on site visit where the monitor may perform most if not all of the inspection while standing on the front porch. In recent weeks, Karamu has performed a number of site inspections using all of the techniques identified above. We've also conducted a number of routine on-site visits using appropriate safety protections such as masks, social distancing, and pre-visit temperature checks. Regardless of how a sponsor chooses to conduct inspections, participating providers are required to cooperate. Refusal to allow a visit to be completed during normal working hours is a violation of CACFP policy even during these extraordinary times. Of course, we will work with you to make each desk review as safe and convenient as we can. For on-site visits we will always be respectful of any COVID safety practices you have in place for visitors to your childcare facility.
Mandatory Annual CACFP Training
All Training Will Be Provided Remotely This Year

The USDA has not granted any waivers related to the requirement for providers to attend mandatory annual CACFP training provided by their sponsors. Due to the ongoing risks of COVID-19, all of our training this year will be conducted remotely - we will not hold any in-person group training sessions. We plan to conduct training via Zoom live webinars, phone conferences, and online video. Our 2020 training schedule will be released by e-mail in the coming days.

As a CACFP sponsor, we take our responsibilities very seriously - this includes our government mandated requirement to provide training to our sponsored providers once a year. We understand some of you may occasionally receive invitations to attend CACFP training offered by sponsors who use CACFP training as a marketing tool to recruit new providers. Please be mindful that for CACFP purposes you will only receive CACFP training credit by attending training that we provide.
Childcare Licensing Updates
Visit Your State's Website For The Latest Updates Pertaining To Childcare Operations

Both Tennessee and Kentucky child-care officials have done an excellent job keeping their respective child-care communities informed as we have all struggled to navigate our way through this crisis. For the latest news from your state's childcare agency please follow the links below.
School System Virtual Learning Impacts on CACFP Operations
School-Aged Children Attendance Times

With so many school systems choosing a virtual instead of classroom learning format for the immediate future, we know that many of you will have school-aged children claimed for meals at times they should normally be in school. Because of this, we are revising our claim checking process to "warn" instead of "disallow" when a school-aged child is claimed for a meal they should not normally be in attendance for. Be mindful, however, that this is not an authorization for you to exceed your licensing or alternate approval capacity. Be sure to check with your state's licensing agency for other guidance pertaining to school-aged children being present during the day.
At-Risk After School (ARAS) Program Operations

The recent expiration of the after school curriculum waiver coupled with a number of school systems opting for virtual instead of classroom learning as the new school year begins, has caused quite a bit of confusion over how school based ARAS sites will operate this school year. As of the date of this newsletter, the USDA has not issued any guidance. As soon as we hear from the USDA, we will reach out to the ARAS sites that are impacted.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Please see the frequently asked questions (FAQ) below. If you have a question not already answered here, please send it to us by e-mail to and we will answer as soon as we can and may post the answer to our FAQs for others to see. Please be patient and give us time to respond.
Over the last few months, the USDA has published a list of questions and answers related to Child Nutrition program operations during the COVID-19 national emergency. Click on the links below to view the Q&A memos.

Question: 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?

Answer: 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.
Question: 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?

Answer: 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.
Question: I want to know what do I need to do in order to get approved for take-out meals.

Answer: Please see the Non-congregate waiver information provided herein.
Question: If you are a Tennessee unlicensed provider limited to caring for four children, are you able to care for additional children now?  

Answer:  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.
Question: Will food monitors make regularly scheduled visits, during this pandemic crisis, due to social distancing?

Answer: Yes. The USDA has granted sponsors some flexibility in how we perform site inspections. In addition to temporarily lowering the number of required visits we must conduct, the USDA is also allowing sponsors to conduct visits remotely which includes by phone, live streaming, and other methods that don't require us to come into your facility. That said, providers are still required to allow us to conduct reviews during normal working hours regardless of how we conduct the visit.
Question: 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?

Answer: 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.
Question: 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?

Answer: 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.
Question: Will this pandemic delay reimbursement checks in the coming months?

Answer: 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.
Question: How should an At Risk Afterschool site maintain attendance and meal counts for the drive thru meal service?

Answer: 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.
Question: I am having trouble finding milk, bread, whole grain rich foods, CN labeled foods, and other staple items I normally serve. Am I allowed to serve non-creditable food items?

Answer: Please refer to the Meal Pattern Requirement waiver information provided herein.
Question: 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?

Answer: 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.
Question: 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?

Answer: 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.
Question: 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?

Answer: 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.
Question: 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?

Answer: 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.
Question: 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?

Answer: 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.
Our Commitment to Safety - Going Paperless. We Need Your Help
During this unprecedented time, the safety of our providers and Karamu’s staff is our number one priority. As such, we are more determined than ever in our push to become paperless; but we need your help and cooperation to make this transition. 

Our goal to become paperless will not only help to keep your staff, children, childcare parents and Karamu staff safe, but it will also reduce the numerous hours and money we spend on printing and postage.

To help us with this endeavor, we need you to collect e-mail addresses from the parents of the children in your care. As you collect the e-mail information, enter it directly into the child’s record in Kidkare or Minute Menu. This will allow CACFP child enrollment and income eligibility applications to be completed electronically using the e-Forms function in Kidkare. In lieu of (or in conjunction with) collecting e-mail addresses, you can also have parents complete enrollment and income applications electronically while on-site at your facility. You simply need to provide a computer or mobile device that can access Kidkare over the internet. Not only will e-Forms minimize the handling of paper, but it will also make it more convenient to collect and submit the documents you need to support your CACFP operations. 

If you are one of those providers who are still using paper claim documents, we also need you to file your claims online. Online claiming is easier than you think, and you can get started right away – you do not have to wait until the beginning of the next claim period.

For those of you who have already begun making the transition to paperless either via e-Forms or online claiming, thank you! For those who have not started the transition yet, we highly encourage you to start today! Read below for more details on how to go paperless.
Submit Your Enrollments and Income Applications Online using e-Forms: Childcare homes and centers may submit child enrollment applications and center income eligibility applications 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. e-Forms allows you to send enrollments and income apps to the parents by sending them a link by e-mail. e-Forms also gives Karamu the ability to continue to receive and process documents even in a work-from-home environment.

e-Forms is already available for use in Kidkare for all of our sponsored childcare Homes and Centers. For more information on e-Forms, please see the links below.

Submitting 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 If you need your Kidkare username and password, please contact us. Childcare centers have the option to 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.

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: Karamu plans to conduct a number of site visits remotely in accordance with current USDA waivers.

Shelter-In-Place Operations: 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.

As Long As The CACFP Is Operating, Karamu Will Be Here To Serve You
Popular Print Resources
Karamu Virtual Town Hall Meeting - Recording Now Available

Thanks to those of you who were able to participate in our virtual town hall meeting held on Thursday, March 26th. An audio recording of the meeting is now available by clicking here.
Karamu is a proud member or sponsor of...
Follow US
This institution is an equal opportunity provider.