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628 Elm St.
East Earl, PA 17519


Celebrating 10 years of service in School Nutrition Program consulting and training.





Customer Service belongs in all job descriptions

Carol Gilbert

Take a few minutes to pull out and read your staff job descriptions.  The job description should identify basic tasks team members are to complete, meet ADA work requirements, and identify any specific skills.  Next read it again, what does the job description tell the staff member about their role in providing excellent customer service?  

If customer service doesn't appear in your formal job descriptions then take some time and think about the skills you want your staff to have and what they levels of service they should provide to your customers.  When employees lack an understanding of quality customer service problems start to surface.  Take time to identify the skills you want your staff to exhibit.  Remember the higher the quality of customer service, the more likely you will have repeat customers, positive comments, and engaged employees.  

So what should can you add to the job description to support excellent quality service?  Here are a few ideas...

  • Effective in customer communication
  • Positive attitude (SMILE)
  • Ability to address and resolve customer questions
  • Respectful and considerate of others 
  • Conscientious of others, doing what's right!

After you make adjustments to the job description remember to add in training.  Many times we believe positive service comes naturally to employees.  Training helps to ensure you are providing  assistance in developing skills relative to meeting the specific needs of your customers, product, and services.

Training, Your Key to Excellence!

Carol Gilbert

We are often asked, "Is the cost of training is worth the investment of staff time and money?" Making the decision to train your staff is an important decision. Adult learners want to know why they are being trained and on what topic.  Training should be something you provide to your team on a regular basis.  Developing skills, building knowledge, and developing staff so they can make informed decisions is an important part of the role you play as a leader.  Studies indicate 'Effective training saves labor by reducing time spent on problem-solving and saves money in the long run by producing a better workforce.' (Shaw, 2015)

Listed below are helpful steps to determine your training needs:

  • Identify what skills or knowledge areas your staff need assistance.
    • Listen, observe, question supervisors and staff to identify what skills need refreshed, what skills need more detailed training.
  • Determine the length of time you can commit to providing the training.
    • 15 minute stand-up, 1 hour, 1/2 day
  • Who is the subject matter expert?
    • You, a manager, another team member, an outside resource.
    • The more informed the subject matter expert, the more engaged the team will be in the training.
  • Specify what skill(s) you want the training to address and if there are any specific concerns.

Shaw, Jerry,, retrieved January 25, 2015.

Understanding USDA Professional Standards

Carol Gilbert

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act required USDA to establish Professional Standards for School Nutrition professionals.  The final regulation was posted on March 2, 2015 in the Federal Register. The regulation provides requirement criteria to be used by the School Food Authority when filling the position of the SFS Director. Hiring a skilled Director helps to ensure the program is in overseen by someone with prior experience and educational expertise.

School Food Authorities with enrollments of 2,499 or less the School Nutrition Director (SND) should hold a High School Diploma or equivalent and 3 years of food service experience.  Schools with enrollments of 2,500 to 9,999 the SND should have a Bachelor of Science and 2 years of experience.  Districts of 10,000 and up, the SND should hold a Bachelor of Science and 5 years of experience.

The standards also identify the number of training hours for three categories of school nutrition staff.  USDA has identified four key areas of training to build skills and expertise in school nutrition.  The areas are Nutrition, Operations, Administration, and Communication/Marketing.  

Beginning in SY 2015 - 2016 staff will need to receive the following number of hours. Beginning on April 1 you can accumulate training hours and count them toward the requirements for 2015 - 2016.

  • School Nutrition Staff, 4 hours 
  • School Nutrition Managers, 6 hours 
  • School Nutrition Directors, 8 hours

Training hours will increase in SY 2016 - 2017 as follows: 

  • School Nutrition Staff, 6 hours 
  • School Nutrition Managers, 10 hours 
  • School Nutrition Directors, 12 hours

Resources are available on our webpage and at USDA Professional Standards.