Staff Development

The professional guidelines developed by the USDA under the HHFKA also include minimum standards for staff development or annual training of food-service team members, including directors. (This is described in the regulations as “minimum required annual continuing education/training for school nutrition program directors” and also “proposed continuing education/training standards for school nutrition program staff.”)  Directors are supposed to undertake a minimum of 15 hours of continued training; managers should receive 12 hours; and other employees working at least 20 hours a week should have 8 hours of training. In addition, food-service directors in every district, no matter its size, should maintain a minimum of 8 hours of food-safety training that is renewed every three years. 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.

The USDA states in the regulations that they intend to develop a “certificate” program focusing on four core areas: nutrition, operations, administration, and communications/marketing. At present, however, food-service departments are still burdened with the cost of the continuing education and certification required by the staff-development regulations. Even if the USDA offers a “free” certification program, departments must still pay their employees for the time spent in training. We recommend including staff development in your budget as part of your anticipated annual expenses. For employees that work 20 hours or more, a minimum of 8 hours should be budgeted, in addition to hours budgeted for starting up or closing down your school sites. 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 8-, 12-, or 15-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.

Multimedia Training

Staff development is an essential component of overall program success. It prepares employees for advancement within the organization, which makes your department an attractive employment option for motivated workers. The content in our Multimedia Training area can be shared for use when developing training sessions for your team. 

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