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717-229-6619

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

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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.