Survey: Boost Training for School Nutrition Staff

2015-08-27

When it comes to implementing current nutrition standards and operating a successful meals program, school nutrition staff members need additional training, according to a recently released report from The Pew Charitable Trusts and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The survey that makes up the foundation of the report was completed in 2012-13, before USDA established national professional standards for school nutrition personnel; however, it recommends that 1) school officials should prioritize and plan opportunities for foodservice personnel training; 2) federal, state and local policymakers should prioritize making fund available for said training, and 3) Organizations that have an interest in improving community wellness and children’s health and education should work with schools to increase and enhance training opportunities.

The report, Serving Healthy School Meals: Staff Development and Training Needs, discloses data from a nationwide survey of programs that participate in National School Lunch and Breakfast programs. It determined that, in order to run a successful program that meets current meal pattern regulations, the majority of school districts expected to make a significant change in their approach to serving meals, such as more scratch-cooking or making recipe alterations. The training needs aren’t one-size-fits-all, though—directors and management need training in developing or modifying menus, says the report, while cooks and front-line servers need basic cooking training.

As you might expect, though, budget plays a large role in this necessary training. Only 37% of school food authorities (SFAs) report having the budget for training, but even of that, two-thirds say the budget isn’t sufficient. Although staff could take advantage of training opportunities from state child nutrition agencies, 72% of survey respondents claim that it wouldn’t meet all of their needs.

To read the report in its entirety, click here. SNA is committed to being the premier resource for Professional Standards. To learn more about tools offered by the Association, including an online training tracking tool, visit SNA’s Professional Standards website.

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