The Professional Standard for minimum required annual training is an excellent addition to school nutrition programs and will help support more efficient and well informed teams who will be better able to support their school communities in a recognizable, consistent and professional manner. In addition to the guide the USDA created a searchable database for district to find free or low cost training resources organized in the four areas of; nutrition, operations, administration and communications/marketing. They have also created a tracking tool to assist the districts or a district could create its own. Directors are supposed to undertake a minimum of 12 hours of continued annual training; managers should receive 10 hours; and other employees working at least 20 hours a week should have 6 hours of training and employees working less than 20 hours per week, 4 hours. In addition, food-service directors in every district, no matter its size, would need to have at least 8 hours of food safety training within five years prior to hire or within 30 days of hire. Though the guidelines recommend food-safety training for all food-service employees, we would advise you to train as many staff as possible for formal manager-level certification training, so that they can in turn train other employees. Particularly in larger districts, having one or more members of the management team certified as ServSafe trainers lowers the cost of certified food-safety training and makes it easier to train and recertify staff in ServSafe procedures. This also makes it easier to develop customized resources and standard operating procedures that suit your operational model.
Though the training requirements must be performed annually, there is no funding to support this. We recommend including staff development in your budget as part of your anticipated annual expenses ‒specifically to support USDA required hours as specified by position. Though it may be possible through creating short targeted trainings to include them within the regular budgeted hours by employee, creating a line item specific to training will ensure that you can support the requirements. Depending on the complexity of your operation and your desire to revise your operational model, you may want to budget for more training than the minimum 4-, 6 -, 10-, or 12-hour requirements by employee type. Grant money and outside funders might be able to support the additional training required to prepare your staff for a significant shift in operations.
Staff development is an essential component of overall program success and we are excited that the HHFKA supports this vision. Staff development prepares employees for advancement within the organization, which makes your department an attractive employment option for motivated workers. We have included videos and webinars that can be shared for use when developing training sessions for your team.
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