New Hiring Flexibility for Directors in Small School Districts


On Monday, February 25, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue addressed school nutrition professionals gathered in Washington, D.C., for SNA’s 47th annual Legislative Action Conference and announced a final rule, effective April 30, 2019, on new hiring flexibility under professional standards.

The flexibility applies to the hiring standards for new school nutrition program directors in small local educational agencies (LEAs) and new State agency directors under the Professional Standards regulations for the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program.

  • First, to address hiring challenges faced by small school districts, which are those with 2,499 or fewer students, this rule requires relevant food service experience rather than school nutrition program experience for new school nutrition program directors.
  • Second, it provides State agencies with discretion to consider documented volunteer or unpaid work as relevant experience for new school nutrition program directors in LEAs with 2,499 or fewer students.
  • Third, it gives State agencies discretion to accept less than the required years of food service experience when an applicant for a new director position in an LEA with fewer than 500 students, if the applicant has the minimum required education.
  • Lastly, this rule adds flexibility to the hiring standards for State directors of school nutrition programs by allowing State agencies to consider applicants with either a bachelor's or advanced degree in specified fields.

These changes are expected to expand the pool of candidates qualified to serve as leaders in the school nutrition programs while continuing to ensure that school nutrition professionals are able to perform their duties effectively and efficiently.

Download SNA’s summary detailing hiring requirements for School Nutrition and State Agency Directors, and the continuing education required for all school nutrition personnel or access the final rule on the Federal Register website.

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