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Professional Standards - School Nutrition

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture has established minimum professional standard requirements for school nutrition professionals who manage and operate the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs. The goal of these standards is to ensure that school nutrition personnel have the knowledge, training and tools needed to operate School Nutrition Programs (SNP) successfully. There are hiring standards for new food service directors and annual training requirements for all school nutrition employees.

USDA School Meals Professional Standards - review Final Rule, USDA Learning Objectives, Learning Codes, Training Topics, Database of Training Opportunities, Guidance materials including FAQs and USDA Training Tracker Tool.

New Director Hiring Requirements

New Directors, hired on or after July 1, 2015, are required to meet minimum education and work experience standards.

Some exceptions may be granted - contact your assigned consultant, or Patti Harding at patti.harding@iowa.gov.

Along with hiring standards, new directors must acquire 8 hours of food safety training within 5 years prior or within 30 days of their start date.

Education and Experience level acceptable Enrollment of
2499 or less
Enrollment of
2,500-9,999
Enrollment of
10,000 or more
Master's degree in specific area of study* Yes Yes Yes
Bachelor's degree in specific area of study* Yes Yes Yes
Bachelor's degree in any academic major and relevant school food service (SFS)experience Yes, with 1 year SFS experience Yes, with 2 years SFS experience Yes, with 5 years SFS experience
Bachelor's degree in any academic major and relevant food service (FS)experience Yes, with 1 year FS experience Yes, with 2 years SFS experience No
Associate's degree in specific area of study* and relevant school food service (SFS) experience Yes, with 1 year SFS experience Yes, with 2 years SFS experience No
Associate's degree in specific area of study* and relevant food service (FS) experience Yes, with 1 year FS experience No No
High School diploma (or GED) and at least 3 years of relevant food service experience Yes No No

*Acceptable majors/areas of concentration for a Master’s or Bachelor degree include food and nutrition, food service management, dietetics, family and consumer science, nutrition education, culinary arts, business, or a related field.

Annual Training Requirements

USDA established minimum annual training requirements for all school nutrition directors, managers, and all staff involved in any aspect of the nutrition program.

Training must be specific to duties performed.

SFA must track and document annual training for all school nutrition employees. Maintain supporting documentation such as agenda, sign-in sheet or certificate of completion.

  • Food Service Directors 12 hours
  • Managers: 10 hours 
  • Full-Time Staff (> 20 hours per week): 6 hours
  • Part-Time Staff (< 20 hours per week): 4 hours

Annual Training Summary Chart - printable one-page guidance

Resources and Tools

Sample Director Job Description - Local duties and responsibilities for directors vary; training must be specific to duties performed.

Training Resources:

Education Events - Schools - check out upcoming Iowa training and webinars

Learning Tools - Schools - search recorded Iowa webinars by topic

USDA Professional Standards Training Database - search for training that meets your learning needs

ICN Child Nutrition Sharing Site - search for training that meets your learning needs

Web-based Tutorials - free interactive web-based training - each provide a certificate of completion

School Nutrition Association (SNA) USDA Professional Standards Hub - resources to assist with professional standards

Training Trackers: SFA may use either web-based USDA Tool or alternate tracking method such as the state agency templates below. Include employee name, position, title of training, key area, date completed, and creditable training hours.

Professional Standards Recorded Webinar - a review of professional standards training requirements.

USDA Menu Planner for School Meals - a comprehensive guide recommended for school nutrition professionals; particularly helpful for newer directors

Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on July 05, 2020 at 12:14am.