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SNA Wants Member Feedback on Proposed Rule on Professional Standards

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February 5, 2014 – On February 4, 2014, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released proposed regulations on professional standards for all school nutrition employees.

The School Nutrition Association (SNA), representing 55,000 school nutrition professionals working in school cafeterias nationwide, has already mobilized a representative task force of SNA members to review the details of the proposed rule. The task force will assess the impact of the rule on school nutrition professionals and school meal programs, as well as gather extensive input from SNA members and craft SNA’s official comments in response to the rule.

USDA’s announcement can be found at this link. The proposed rule can be found here. SNA encourages members to review the rule and provide any comments, encouraging or critical in the comment field below. Final comments on the rule will be due on April 7, 2014.

Barnes & Thornburg LLP has provided an executive summary to the rule. Please click here to review their summary.

Some questions I have for now -

1. The term "Annual Certification" and "Certificate" but not many details of what that means exactly?

2. For our situation - Supervisors and Supervisor Assistants - would they fall into the category of "Managers"?

3. Do all of our office staff fall into the category of staff that would require 8 hours of annual training?

4. There is reference to specific topics for specific job titles/duties. Will those be spelled out by the final rule?

5. Any staff that is considered part-time (less than 20 hours/week) - which would be our subs - require training "proportional to the number of hours worked" as a minimum.
This would be difficult to calculate - so may be best to require all subs to also complete 8 hours of training annually.

6. Record keeping - I see this as the most challenging aspect of this ruling. Keeping track of it all!!! Also....we have staff starting throughout the school year (up until the end of April sometimes). Would their annual training requirements be "pro-rated" or would they also need 8 hours of training for that school year (even though they may only be working for 1 month).

7. Do training topics/sessions created by individual SFA's need to be reviewed and approved by a State authority? For example - Manager meetings - would we be able to credit managers with 2 hours of continuing education for each managers meeting without prior review or approval of the meeting agenda?
Posted by: Edith Zumwalt, MS, RD at 2/7/2014 2:04 PM

We have appr 1300 part time employees, many of whom only work 2 hours per day and a work calendar that mimics the school year calendar. We already have mandated OSHA,safety workshops etc. If we add an additional 8 hours of training, we are looking at a cost of appr. $175,000 dollars per year in labor alone. Where are we going to get the funds to underwrite this expense. I always tell people it's not the food but the logistics surrounding the meal programs. Even if we have the funds, we still need to find locations to accomodate the number of EEs we have employed and workshop leaders to provide the training and secretaries to track the training. It would seem to me that there would be consequences for EEs missing the training sessions that would then involve union negotiations. I agree that training is necessary, we provide it. But making training a mandatory regulation is adding unnecessary stress and burdens on meal programs that are already bogged down with new regulations and declining participation due to the new meal regulations. I just ask for some common sense. Our Production Manager likes to say 'balance our resources with our realities'. The USDA can take a hint from him.
Posted by: Sylvia Kravitz( Visit ) at 2/7/2014 2:13 PM

I think the proposed standards are good with a few exceptions. I really am a firm believer that in order to be a good, effective Director or Supervisor, you should have first hand knowledge of a working school kitchen. Without that I have seen Directors makes changes to a menu for example that cannot feasibly be done with the equipment that the kitchen has.
I think all school cafeteria personnel should have food safety and nutrition training but at a level that they can comprehend. Many of our cafeteria workers are older and many did not finish High School.
Posted by: Debbie Remillard at 2/7/2014 2:13 PM

Did you consider establishing categories for school nutrition employees as well? Clerical and Administrative staff in the central office of the cn office wouldn't require the same training as site production staff.
Posted by: Valerie at 2/7/2014 2:15 PM

Experience should be equal to educational requrements
Posted by: Kevin Scott at 2/7/2014 2:16 PM

Would it be possible for SNA to create a catalog of trainings available from state agencies, professional services, etc that would be applicable to use to meet the annual requirements?
Posted by: Valerie at 2/7/2014 2:18 PM

I believe that if the USDA is going to maintain its extreme standards for children's meals, that Food Service Directors need to practice what we're preaching. I don't think it's acceptable for FSDs to be overweight and/or sedentary. If we expect the kids to "buy into" what we're teaching them through the meal program, then we need to "walk the walk" as well. Kids are not stupid, and our credibility as professionals is lost if we do not hold ourselves to healthy weight and activity standards.
Posted by: Susan at 2/7/2014 2:41 PM

While I agree with training staff, and the transition to a NationWide Sanitation Certification, I believe the mandatory training as proposed will create a huge financial burden on my District. We are very small--only 25 FoodService staff in all, and to have mandated trainings to cover information that is already known and understood is an expense we would be hard pressed to meet. To have EVERY staff member certified in sanitation regs would be overkill, in my opinion. The class currently costs $195.00 plus an additional $35 upon completion would cost an additional $5760 that we could use better elsewhere. I think my thought is needed before these proposals are enacted.
Posted by: Anna Wolk at 2/7/2014 2:44 PM

I have been in Child Nutrition Services for 15 years. I have never seen so much change take place in all of these years as I have the past three or four years. These new standards could cost people their jobs. There are several people that have a learning disability that work in our cafeteria. We have trained them to do certain jobs and they are good at what they do. We have never had a bad audit in our district, so that should say something. I believe in training staff. Everyone in our district has a level 1 certification through SNA with the exception of two employees that have learning disabilities and would not be able to pass the test in order to become certified. Most directors/supervisors in our region do not have the education that would be required. This would mean job loss in places where there are no jobs. Time and finances wouldn't allow many to go back to school to get a degree. However, they run their programs well.
We have seen participation drop because of all the new regulations. I really believe that we have children in our district that this is the only meal that they get all day. I believe in serving healthy school meals and even though it is a little hard trying to meet the calories on the elementary/middle school level, we have managed. I can tell you once the sodium is taken out of the food participation will continue to go down. One hundred percent whole grains is another issue. Students don't like the whole grain bread and cost is a factor as well. We are forcing students to take food and they dump it in the trash. It is our job to feed hungry chilgren, yet, they are going home hungry and we are not meeting the goals.
Posted by: Jeannie at 2/7/2014 2:44 PM

Requiring new directors to have an Associates Degree may be difficult in a lot of areas/plus college classes aren't cheap. I think the levels of certification with SNA would work much better. Many of the classes can be taken online from NFSMI and you can work at your own pace. The state of Kansas offers summer training classes which can be helpful, but staff still has to be paid to attend. Many staff members work summer jobs to supplement their income.
Posted by: Mary at 2/7/2014 2:59 PM

If you are going to require more training/experience and/or a College degree it will cost more to hire new supervisors and Directors. Where are the funds to pay them going to from? Small schools and even some larger ones cannot come up with the extra money for this-certainly not in the usual increase in money for school lunches from the government.
Posted by: Mike at 2/7/2014 3:04 PM

I feel we should send a clear message to congress and the President and the USDA that we want these matters left to the State to decide. Not the Federal government. They do not need to impose more hardship on these professionals than is necessary, unless they are going to raise their wages also. They don't make the same wages as the teachers or Congress.
Posted by: Karen Fugal at 2/7/2014 3:15 PM

My question is, If you are already a food service director in a school, but have no degree can we apply for a job at a different school district that might have education requirements for a new food service director position? My comment is I feel that experience in food service schools, restaurant's, catering etc. should mean something. Does 26 years of food service experience count toward the education requirements? If not there should be something outlined in this new rule.
Posted by: Mike Pingree at 2/7/2014 3:44 PM

I believe we have enough rules and regulations to follow. There are many very qualified individuals who have learned their skills informally. Schools have experience in hiring qualified people and may have variations in requirements based on regions so to mandate more rules would be conterproductive. If all the proposed rules would be advisory, I would have no concerns with the proposal.
Posted by: rick mariam at 2/7/2014 3:51 PM

The proposed rule states that a Master's degree is needed for Directors of districts with an enrollment of 25,000 or more, or a willingness to work towards a Master's degree with an enrollment of 10,000-24,999. I would like to see added: OR, must be a Registered Dietitian and/or School Nutrition Specialist. Both of these credentials require Directors to receive continuing education credits, ensuring we are up to date in the field, which is just as beneficial to having an advanced degree.
Posted by: Lori at 2/7/2014 3:57 PM

I'm a newer Asst. Director and have worked extreamly hard to move up the ranks only to be told that's not good enough and I can't advance to Director through my experience or possible loose my current position because of lack of schooling you are now requiring. As a sole breadwinner I work 50 or more hour per week and can't take the time off to take classes and unless I could find a few online it would be physically and financially impossible to get the needed credits for a degree. I think we should all have continual training but loosing your livelyhood and passion and because of a required degree is heartbreaking.
Posted by: Lisa.Mischke at 2/7/2014 6:06 PM

I think the professional standards are indeed in line and need to be implemented and enforced. Given today's complex regulations dietitians, strong financial staff, highly qualified managers and front line staffs are going to be important in order to move the industry forward.
Posted by: Tammie Rempe at 2/7/2014 7:51 PM

I believe training and education are good goals for food service to meet. However,if you require that all directors have increasingly higher education as the cost of said education continues to skyrocket, aren't we creating a future deficit in a program already understaffed,and underfunded? As a food service manager, I am very proud of the meals that most food service folks provide everyday with limited funds, and educational opportunities. For the federal government to place another burden on SFA without clear direction as to how this education will be funded and tracked, is just another federal mandate placed upon a program that has already had its share of government interference.
Posted by: Trish at 2/8/2014 3:46 PM

From what I understand, the regulations that congress have imposed on our school districts have caused a loss of revenue to most districts because of the drop in participation in school lunch. The federal government does not have all the answers and should let the states and even the districts set their own requirements for the people who work for the Nutrition Service Departments in their schools.
Posted by: Penny Cutler at 2/8/2014 5:07 PM

If we are to be taken seriously we will have to be trained. Why is lunch room food such a joke? Could it be the dry chicken nuggets, the oatmeal looking rice,the watered down accouterments? Would it be to much to ask for our workers to Understand food and its properties? To be healthy,set an example,and actually eat what we serve? There should however be an experience test for those who are currently doing the job as well as certification ease, a set of required reading materialism readily available and a standard test at a local government office,where the test can only be taken in person, so as to avoid fraud?
Posted by: Kam at 2/8/2014 7:16 PM

I am a manager of a very small school district. My state already requires Sanitation classes to be taken every 5 years. The classes are paid for but our time is not. I live in a state that is continually cutting school budgets and putting more burden on local districts. I can't see my state paying for the training. There is no way our school district can absorb the cost of yearly training for all food service employees. Currently I am one of 3 people in our district (16 food service employees total) that is certified by the SNA. That leaves 13 employees to get training and that is only if the Fed Gov. will accept the SNA certification for the training they are requiring.
Posted by: Deanna C at 2/9/2014 12:37 AM

We are a small district already reeling from the double loss of increased food costs for HHFKA and reduced participation. Requiring training for all staff would mean increased labor for training time and a record keeping burden that would be a nightmare for a district our size. I am director, and have all the paperwork responsibilities; but I am also on the line daily doing food prep, washing dishes, and keeping lunch counts. I have been in the NSLP for 22 years, and have never had a bad review, and was among the first in my area to certify under the new regulations. My staff all are Food Safe certified; and it is an affront to me and my staff to infer that we are not doing our jobs because we have not had some arbitrary level of training. We train eagerly when it is important to our work, but I don't see where this will bring us anything but additional work and more lost money in an already suffering budget.
Posted by: Joyce Johansen at 2/9/2014 10:42 AM

USDA is over-steppping their authority. Each district has guidelines and minimum qualifications for differenct positions and those should be followed, not USDA setting up across-the-board rules. This would limit people for growth and 99% of what we know and learn is from actual experience. As we all know , a degree is good but actual experience is better. USDA needs to limit their "reach".
Posted by: Thomas Holmberg( Visit ) at 2/10/2014 7:36 AM

I have two big concerns. How will all this training and the hours it takes to complete it be paid for? Will there be free classes on line and will they be updated yearly so we can continue to take new classes yearly? Also what do we do with older staff who may not be able to take/pass classes each year to get the CEUs they require to keep their jobs? Will I have to let them go and then they loose their insurance and income? In my area no one with a masters degree will work for a school district salary... what if you cant find people to fill open positions because the standards are to strict? I can no longer move experienced staff up into manager positions that they have trained for for years because they do not have the education to move now...that's not a good idea. Experience has got to count for something in all this!!!
Posted by: stacy at 2/10/2014 7:56 AM

How do these new professional standards affect individuals who are currently employed as directors who have been on the job for years and years and who only have high school diplomas but 35+ years experience in the food service industry? Years od experience as well as yearly food service training classes, online courses and keeping up SNA CEU's should keep them qualified. Also the government should stay out of these matters.
Posted by: Juanita Bisig at 2/10/2014 8:55 AM

It's curious that the SNS credential is not featured more prominently in this proposal. I saw it referenced only once in the entire text an that was for State Directors. Seems like this credential was basically ignored.
Posted by: Tim Goossens at 2/10/2014 9:55 AM

I understand all the training but the cost for
the Smaller School Districts will be expensive. Like the one person said USDA is over stepping the State and the School Districts.
Posted by: Cathy Vinson at 2/10/2014 10:56 AM

This seems to be an unrealistic, unfunded,mandated rule that if implemented sets us up to fail even before we attempt to tackle this. And I believe the word tackle is fair. I have worked in Food Service my whole life, I have learned working in a school district the first place to cut is always areas farthest from the classroom, and I agree 100% with this. That money has to come from somewhere, so where? For you to ask a district to implement these guidelines on schools is again unrealistic. We say we are helping kids but are we really. I see the biggest obstacle is trying to get all school districts to do as one, simply not going to happen. The size of schools and community's are different across the globe. Every school is different, and operates differently as they should. Paperwork will be a nightmare, to keep up with alone, I see my people everyday making a difference in the life of a child who they see 5 minutes a day. You cannot tell me requiring them to have a degree or expensive mandated training is going to make that better. I agree with some of this but again make it realistic and fiscally operable for schools. Are we feeding egos or are we feeding kids?
Posted by: Vickie Cantrell at 2/10/2014 11:00 AM

Wow. Made the career change some 7 years ago. Spent over 20 years working as regional manager for restaurants. Currently the assistant director for a district over 50,000 enrollment. I have learned NSL, CACFP, ASSP, and applied all that I learned about running a fiscally sound business growing our fund balance every year. I have a BS but not an MBA. Are you saying I'm not qualified now to run the district that may someday be mine? Someone who has studied in a book has more knowledge of running this large department? I think not. Business operations is not learned in a classroom. It's really world experience.
Posted by: Lisa Evans at 2/10/2014 11:51 AM

I see nothing wrong with further training. Yes it will limit some of our more senior-ed employees, but I do believe it is a good thing. If it is required fro teaching staff, coaches, teachers aids, secretaries, principals, superintendents, BUS DRIVERS(!), then why wouldn't it be required for us? Knowledge is power, the more we have available to us, and know how to properly implement it is a positive for our chosen profession as school food service employees.
Posted by: Jenny Jones( Visit ) at 2/10/2014 12:28 PM

I agree with a number of comments I have seen. It would appear they are not taking years of experience into account. Normally you see a statement along the lines of (BS degree or equivalent ". I would also suggest they incorporate traditional food service training such as that given by the National Restaurant Association and others - not just SNA.
Posted by: K Conner at 2/10/2014 1:24 PM

I would like to know what the governments end game is with this issue. It seems to me that when they are trying to make these beautiful people do more than they already do and expect them to have more schooling to accomplish the things they already do so well, it is all messed up. They are the lowest paid and work harder than anyone in the district for the short hours they are given.
1. Training costs more
2. These ladies want to be home with
children when not working
3. Giving them a more guidelines to
follow will not make them work
harder or better.
4. The government needs to stay out of
our lives or we lose our freedoms.
5. LUNCH LADIES take care of our
children better than most and way
better than our government ever
dreamed of. Can you say Socialist/
Posted by: Dave Keck at 2/10/2014 1:43 PM

Sooooo glad I'm close to retirement! Twenty-seven years in school foodservice will soon mean nothing, and that I'm no longer qualified to do my job. Wow.
Posted by: Paula at 2/10/2014 2:27 PM

I am totally opposed to this proposed ruling. Just because an SFA agrees to sponser a "partially" federal subsidized FNS program in their schools, should USDA through a series of executive orders be able to impose hiring and training requirements on school districts.In addition, SNA has no buisness trying to require SFA's to hire a RD,degree or credientialing requirements. Having these degrees will not ensure "professionalism" nor a guarantee in increased salary.(just ask anyone who has one) Each SFA has the responsibily to hire and plan for it's own training needs. To those of you who beleive it will, tells me that you don't have a very good grasp as to the role most districts place on FS programs. Make note that I did not use the term of "Nutriton Program" I have been working as a Director in SFA's sinces 1987
with only a HS diploma + 18 yrs with a FS management company that put alot of emphisas on customer service, budget and how important is is to treat everyone with respect. That is what being a professional is all about. If the USDA ever gets to the position of 100 % funding for all kids for at least one meal a day, then they can have all the say they want.
Posted by: Dan at 2/10/2014 5:00 PM

I think the standards are a welcome addition to school foodservice professionals. I do see that continuing education/training could be a challenge with scheduling, since so many operations run on a skeleton crew as it is. But maybe state agencies can offer hands-on training at each site or school districts can sponsor SNA memberships and/or attendance to yearly conferences at a reduced cost? With all of the new and upcoming regulations, I think it is imperative to develop our teams and invest in their future.

I also think it is respectful of the USDA to grandfather people in that didn't start their school foodservice career with a degree. There's definitely something to be said for years dedicated and professional growth and development.

Lastly, I applaud the USDA for at the very least laying the foundation for the next generation of school foodservice professionals.
Posted by: Rita French( Visit ) at 2/10/2014 9:56 PM

I would like to expand upon my original post. I voiced a lot of opinions without giving suggestions.

1. These recommended standards are long overdue. Every other food service segment has educational and professional standards that need to be met, it is time for school food service to join those ranks.

2. Training can be worked into existing budgets and situations, it all depends on the mode of delivery. Example, it does not take long to demonstrate proper knife skills. With the advent of the internet and multimedia, it is possible to conduct professional development at little or no cost.

3. Partner with local chefs. Like you, they are parents and community members. Let them share their knowledge with you as you share your knowledge with them. Chefs are THE experts when it comes to cooking food and some are eager to share that knowledge.

4. Education and experience go hand in hand. I had taught myself a lot about cooking before I went to culinary school, I went to school to learn what I did not know and I continue to learn new things about cooking every day. I also taught myself how to do nutritional analysis, yet I am not an RD.

5. Return to scratch cooking. It is easier, cheaper and you control what is going into the food. Ask a chef to come in and help you prepare items from commodities. We are good at creativity with limited ingredients. In my schools, we make our own marinara sauce with USDA tomato sauce as the base.

6. Take online classes. You really do not have to go anywhere and these can be done at your convenience. There are even online culinary programs.

7. The school food segment needs to benchmark the commercial food service industry for trainings, recipes, ideas, etc. There is a wealth of knowledge out there, you must seek it to want it.

8. I know some directors and staff who have a formal education and culinary training, yet some people they work with are afraid to embrace change. My biggest question for many in this field is why are you afraid to try things a new way? You cannot successfully resist change, but make it work for you.

Overall, I welcome the new standards. I think they are long overdue and are only going to make this industry better.
Posted by: Chef Jasun Zakro at 2/11/2014 12:06 AM

What happened to "best qualified candidate" for any of the jobs and "fair and equal"? Education is great if you happened to be blessed enough to have gone to school after High School but if not learned skills, desire, common sense, etc... are great assets when preparing nutritious meals for our future youth. USDA has set some high requirements of us and education level should not be another one. I'd like to think we all love what we do and work hard to meet every guideline. Our jobs along require continued training.
Posted by: Vicki Marcucci( Visit ) at 2/11/2014 10:21 AM

Posted by: ELMER at 2/11/2014 11:26 AM

You can make any recommendation for professional standards you would like but what is the "or what"? if there is no fine or requirement this simply remains a recommendation without teeth.
Posted by: Sue Karcz at 2/11/2014 2:00 PM

As we are members of an education community, I was looking forward to seeing standards for hiring and continuing education established for our school food service personnel. However, the plan presented for our comment is so flawed; so full of mistakes and omissions; and so lacking in any kind of coherence it is hard to know where to start except to say the only course of action a reasonable person would recommend is to reject it, conduct more research and develop a meaningful plan for our profession.
I believe I can contribute a unique perspective as my career has consisted of 2 years as a director of a district less than 2,500 students, 10 years as a director of 10,000-24,999 students, 14 years as senior staff member at a district of 25,000 or more and 2 years (so far) as a director of a district of 2,500-9,999 students.
The qualifications for school food service directors are the first section presented. Nearly every job description contains a phrase along the lines of “or such other qualifications as the Board shall find acceptable.” This important local control measure allows each SFA to evaluate unique qualifications that cannot be covered in a blanket statement. I have known many excellent school food service directors whose background in military service, child care programs, correctional food service, health care settings and commercial operations has allowed them bring strong skill sets to their programs. I’ve also known directors who received non-business degrees run excellent programs—many of these were people who came to school food service as a part-time job while finishing a degree in another field and decided to stay on. I would also like to comment that by doing a bit of reverse mathematics on figures such as “only 8 percent of currently possess only a high school degree” you will find that there are thousands of directors who work today doing a perfectly competent job without meeting these standards.
There are very few college programs offering a degree at any level in “school food service” and even fewer graduates so it’s safe to say that, unlike teachers and principals who have access to academic programs prior to taking their jobs, people in our line of work come to it through other-than-academic means. Requiring or “strongly encouraging” school food service directors to pursue an academic degree while working (often more than) full-time is not realistic as I’m sure most districts would prefer a director who focuses on the job at hand over leaving early to work on their economics class project. There are legitimate issues of costs to the individual for such a requirement and even access for many in rural or geographically isolated areas. These requirements need to be developed in a way that allows for local control and flexibility.
The next section presented has to do with training and certificate programs for various levels of personnel. These levels are so inadequate that, again, it is hard to know even where to begin. This poorly researched plan assumes there are only 3 levels of employees—directors, managers and serving staff while nothing could be farther from the truth. Even people only remotely knowledgeable about our field ought to know that positions such as assistant directors, financial managers, certification clerks, menu planners, dietitians, regional area managers and more are all commonplace. There are no training, certification, experience or indeed any requirements at all for staff members who should be highly skilled and who play a vital role in our operations. So in theory with this plan you can have an assistant director at a district of 100,000 students without even a high school diploma and no training requirements while a 4-hour worker in the same district would have to complete at least 8 hours of training yearly.
This omission alone makes the plan unworkable but it is also worth mentioning that the classification of “manager” is so broad as to be meaningless in the real world. Lumping together a manager who oversees a school of 200 students and one assistant with a manager who oversees a centralized kitchen serving multiple sites with dozens of employees and thinking that the knowledge and training requirements could be made the same shows again the severe weakness of the plan presented. This entire section should be scrapped and research on the true training needs of our programs be developed.
The section on certification and credentialing turns both these important topics into hollow and useless programs.. I’m quite disappointed that SNA’s excellent certification and credentialing programs didn’t even make the cut. The plan proposes that FNS will make no credentialing program but only a meaningless “recognition of various levels of training” regardless of whether what the training was or even if the person got anything out of the training. I can’t imagine that FNS will want to add the number of staff members it would take to keep track of the training requirements of the thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of school food service workers across America.
My home state of California already imposes significant training requirements on school food service staff members that will not go away with addition of these new proposals and a great deal of which is not transferable. While the requirements here for ServSafe certification will count, it’s hard to make the case that the time we already spend on required training on student bullying will.
This requirement is especially burdensome on large districts where record-keeping on more than a thousand employees would be a time-consuming and futile task but it is difficult at every level. Not all employees speak English well. Not all employees read well. Not all employees have internet access. Not all employees have good transportation. Many employees have multiple jobs and cannot attend trainings that occur outside their usual location and hours. A training plan must take all this into consideration in order to workable.
It’s obvious from the comments on the SNA web site as well as numerous contacts I’ve had with my colleagues in the field that there is virtually no support for this plan as presented. Lacking support from the nation’s school food service directors this current plan is doomed to fail. I encourage SNA to take its well-deserved leadership role and demand that we be presented with a workable, supportable plan for the future of our profession.
Posted by: Sarah Spero at 2/12/2014 4:54 PM

Our state agency administers the programs for small RCCIs and private schools. Most of these schools have less than 300 children. Most of our RCCIs have less than 50 students; most RCCIs have 10-25 students. These agencies do not have child nutrition directors; they have food service managers to run the program and a school principal/agency director who have many numerous responsibilities. The responsibilities of the program is divided among other staff to ensure compliance. Staff for the whole organization may be less then 20. Due to the size, budget constraints, and the type of organizations, hiring a food service director with required food service education is not practical. These directors are hired to uphold the mission of their organization. They do not hire school principals or directors of juvenile detentions because of their food service experience. Their budgets cannot afford a child nutrition director, nor is practical for them to hire one oversee a site with such a small number of students. Child Nutrition policies should not dictate how these organizations operate. Small single districts and RCCIs may be forced to leave the program. The intent of the child nutrition programs is to provide nutrition meals to all students. I believe most districts want to do it right, but overregulation is forcing districts to look for other options that save time and money.
Posted by: Gina at 2/13/2014 8:45 AM

As SNA's staff liaison to the Professional Standards Task Force, I wanted to take this opportunity to provide clarification on the comments relative to the status of current state and local school nutrition program personnel. As stated in the February 4, 2014 Proposed Rule, ALL school nutrition program personnel would be automatically "grandfathered" into the program and would therefore be protected from any threat of losing their jobs as it relates to this Proposed Rule. The requirements of the Proposed Rule would take effect July 1, 2015; therefore, any individual currently employed by their school or state agency would not be in jeopardy of losing their position. SNA is developing a summary of the Proposed Rule and will share with the membership upon its completion.
Posted by: Cathy Schuchart at 2/13/2014 11:14 AM

What the USDA is proposing is akin to having an English teacher teach math just because they have a degree. The experience one has should come into play. Perhaps a test, or a 6 month online course to be sure one is trained to handle the requirements of an FSD. As a single parent with 3 kids I have weighed the option of going back to school. However, I don't have the fiscal or physical ability to do that at this time. It will be a shame to lose so many of us with the passion and experience to get the job done well.
Posted by: Patricia Davids-Mockus at 2/17/2014 12:34 PM

As an organization, we are taking the steps in the right direction. Adding professional standards to our profession is long over due. This change will not be easy but very very necessary if we are to continue growing and improving. Knowledge is not static but ever changing. The challenges will be hardest hit by small districts in getting the training to those who need it most. These standards and training requirements must be for ALL employee that work in our kitchen including our part-time employees. In addition to face to face teaching, states that have small districts will be challenged with finding creative ways to support these districts and must consider alternative methods of delivery to include on-line classes, video conferences,lending libraries, etc.
Posted by: Imogene F. Clarke( Visit ) at 2/17/2014 12:36 PM

I think professional standards are important to the integrity of a program. I have been a director for over 24 years in North Carolina and most of the folks here do hold at least a bachelors degree. I think persons currently working in the field should be grandfathered , but the standards should be in place for all new hiers. Often administrators are not well versed in the skill set needed to run a strong program and place people who fail to do so. As for working your way up, it can be done. One of the best directors in this state did it. She was a dishwasher with a GED and now is has her masters and a sucessful large district.
I really do not see how anyone is coming up short of 8 hour of training for all employees? Time you do sanitation, counting, claiming, OSHA, Civil rights, standard operation procedure. That does not even touch what you do with production records and meal production. All my folk, even the 3 hour ones get 10 hours every year. If we are going to be professional and drive our own destiny, it is time to step up to the plate. Then maybe we can take control of the mess, we have allowed others to create in our program. Be the professionals we are.
Posted by: cindy marion at 2/18/2014 12:07 PM

I agree a certain level of education combined with experience is needed and the number of students served should be considered when deciding standards for all positions. A director serving 4000 or more students should be required to have a bachelor's degree plus experience. The cost of obtaining a degree is financially feasable for the salary level of a district of that size. Training requirements have already been implemented for my district that comply with the new standards for the workers and managers. Continuing Education is a priority and an individual's responsibility. If it is mandated, however, it will become an obligation of the program that is stretched thin already.
Posted by: Christi at 2/19/2014 3:28 PM

Just wondering if the USDA and everyone else that are making these rules are going to give the small schools that are already struggling at a daily basis the money involved in the training process? I feel that all schools in Minnesota have put a lot of time and effort in all the new rules and you are going to just add frustration to this. Minnesota already gives an option of getting your different levels of certification and that is hard for some schools. The managers are extremely busy trying to keep up with new rules and changing rules almost at a daily rate. Please consider not doing this at this time and letting the managers/workers to catch up. If you do this I believe there should be money backing this up from the people that want it so badly.
Posted by: Brenda Blomgren at 2/20/2014 8:10 AM

I agree that school food service directors need continuing education, within reason. Educating the entire food service dept. will be very costly; who is funding the classes and time away from work, requiring costly subs? To require kitchen staff that already has their hours cut from the Affordable Care Act, is asking too much of these employees. Where will they find the time when their weekly hours are accumulated and they cannot surpass their weekly requirement due to the Affordable Care Act? This weekly requirement includes our subs as well, where we already have a hard time finding quality, dependable subs. The director should have on-going training, within reason, to keep up with the mandates, but to require him/her to come into the position with a higher education is asking for high are they being paid the salary that equates to a masters or bachelors degree? Where is the money coming from? Most food service directors are already underpaid for the work load and added new regulations, will this be addressed? Will the corporation be required to pay them a baseline salary because of the added training requirements? The state or USDA should train their current directors, within reason, taking into consideration any previous negative reviews, which should require additional training. Time away from the office for training is another concern. Our work day is already stretched due to the new regs. When will there be time to "run" the department that is so important to our kids?
Posted by: Stacie at 2/20/2014 9:16 AM

I agree that we need to train our staff but to make it mandatory is going to effect all the districts, the one's who are in the black as well as those in the red. How are we to afford all these new changes when our participation has gone down and the regulations have gotten stricter. We are struggling with the new regulations trying to get the community on board and now you want us to go further into the abyss. Give us time to make the adjustments and not try to change everything at once.
Posted by: Joyce at 2/20/2014 10:32 AM

I have been in the business for 38. I have known people without college degrees run wonderful progressive programs. I have known people with multiple degrees who are not capable of doing administration or operations.

Small districts, of which there are many in my state, will find it impossible to meet these standards. And there is nothing to say that the standards will enhance the programs.

Can't legislate this kind of thing even though some people believe it is the only way to operate.
Posted by: Kathy Milbrath at 2/20/2014 11:27 AM

Personally, I think this may be a good idea, or at least has potential to be a good idea. I'm quite sure that under the pervue of the government it will all go horribly wrong. But if administered right it would be good to have some standardized training for school nutrition personnel. I am currently in my second year of working in school nutrition and I have to say that I have had to learn quite a bit on my own, picking up bits of information here and there when I can. It has been terribly frustrating to receive countless emails from folks who have been doing this for many years filled with acronyms and abbreviations that just leave me scratching my head. Too many people in the leadership roles and at state level assume a level of knowledge that not all of us have yet. My predecessor was able to teach me that internal aspects of this job, but beyond that I have been pretty much on my own and at the mercy of everyone else. So, yes, standardized training, if administered correctly, could be a good thing. But I'm sure that like everthing else associated with the HHFKA this will be a mess as well.
Posted by: Tom Stephens at 2/24/2014 7:49 AM

I feel the regulations for extra schooling is a great idea, however I don't know when any of the staff will find time to take classes.
Posted by: Jena Atkinson at 2/24/2014 8:08 AM

I think the requirement for inservice for managers and hourly employees should be a local decision. In service should be timely and benificial not just something being done to meet so many hours.

I believe anyone who is responsible for evaluating school meals program ( 6 cent certification and CRE) should be required to have at least a bachelors in a food related area. Ideally they should have some experience in operating a school meals program at the management level. Having people evaluating who have no experience is counterproductive and result in little understanding of how regualtions actually have to work at a school.
Posted by: Beth Spinks( Visit ) at 2/24/2014 8:29 AM

The new college education requirements need to be revised so that experience can also be considered. We have directors with 15 to 20 years of experience that would not be able to be considered for promotions. According to the statistics,80% of directors in large districts have college degrees. Why are we creating a law to block the few that are hired due to their experience, after the districts considered canidates with degrees.

The training requirements, while needed, are going to be a huge financial burden. We will need to pay all of our employees for the extra hours that they will be required to take the courses. That includes webinars and other online courses, they still have to be paid for their time.
Posted by: Tom at 2/24/2014 8:41 AM

I basically support the new proposal. While we do have many individuals that have years of experience and training, I believe that working within the educational system it is to our advantage to keep ourselves informed and educated. Having said that, USDA should recognize years of experience toward some of the educational requirements. I have worked in the school nutrition business for more than 20 years and along the way I realized that experience is one thing but credentials are quite another. I put myself through college then earned a Masters degree all in order to better my performance as a director and to learn the latest and greatest information. We work in education and we need to continue to stay on top and informed in our field. I previously thought my experience as a director was sufficient to keep my job, since then I have realized that education and experience is the golden ticket. Other administrators respect a department that is run by someone with both experience and credentials.
Posted by: Ann Pennington at 2/24/2014 10:20 AM

Does the President of the United States have to posess a bachelor's degree? Not sure why we are getting so hung up on degrees. Here are my suggestions-

For Districts sized 10,000-24,999 the option for a director with an Associate’s degree should be given as for the smaller sized districts. I would propose additional years of experience in program management are required and for it to read as follows:
“An associate's degree, or equivalent educational experience, with an academic major or area of concentration in food and nutrition, food service management, dietetics, family and consumer sciences, nutrition education, culinary arts, business, or a related field; and at least three years of relevant school nutrition program management experience.”

Another option could be that directors at this level not have a bachelor’s degree but be willing to work on one and should read as follows:
“A bachelor's degree, or willingness to work towards a bachelor's degree (in an academic major or area of concentration as described above), would be strongly preferred.”

While education is valuable and important, not everyone is afforded the opportunity to attend college and I think relevant experience has more value when hiring a Nutrition Director who can run a successful program.
Posted by: Jeremy at 2/24/2014 10:26 AM

Before standards as passed and mandated - is there a supply in demand? In order words - are there enough directors with the education requirements to replace the job openings in the next few years. You can't mandate something without having the reserves to fill the job. Oh perhaps this creates another wavier.
Posted by: Karen Johnson at 2/24/2014 10:54 AM

I also feel it would be a burden/ maybe we as smaller school could share a person between school. It is important to keep up on our training, that will only make us better. But a master's will not fit for all school, because of our different sizes. We have a lot of people with lots of experience in our school which should go a long way.
Posted by: m.j. at 2/24/2014 10:57 AM

I support employee growth and development in every way, yet I do have concerns regarding the proposed training/education requirements.
1) I hope that on the job experience will always be valued. Without this value our programs will lose their 'culture'. I have been a lunch lady for over 20 years.. working my way up to Director (with formal education a long the way)and I think the lunch lady culture is one of wonderful hard working and loving people. .people who value work, family and 'children'. I wonder if our employees would be able to qualify for 'education' tax credits related to these new requirements??
2)We currently do a great deal of training in our department. Will this in-house designed training be eligible to count as 'credits' under these new guidelines??
3)I also worry about the 'cost' of additional hours of training. Costs are an increasingly challenging aspect of our programs. I am not sure how much more can be thrown on our plates??
Posted by: Jana Cruz at 2/24/2014 12:50 PM

I am a director of a smaller district I have 28 years in food service 12 as a Director. I do not have any degree's and feel like these proposed standards cater to those with degree's and not to working experience you can't learn experience. Also in our district the food services is a low paying mostly part time position with only one available supervisor director position, so if one of my employee's wanted to apply for my position they would have to go to school get a degree while working for 10 dollars an hour part time that seems a little unrealistic. College degree's are great but they are no match for experience in this field. These proposed standards will stop my progression in Food Services from moving to a larger district and getting a better paying job. I am almost 50 and I am not going to school to get a degree to do what I already do. Thanks
Posted by: Darren at 2/24/2014 12:56 PM

I've been in school food service for over 18 years, 10 of those as a manager and 5 as an Assistant Director. I'm currently taking college courses to earn a Certificate in Hospitality. I will graduate in May, 2014. I feel that I have not gained any new knowledge that will help me in my current position or if/when I move into a director's position. Although I feel that some training is necessary, but to what extent is a tough question. Experience and growth within the establishment are number one on my list. I'm not opposed to yearly training.
Posted by: Julie at 2/24/2014 1:14 PM

The proposed changes would cause undue hardship for districts with small staffs and limited budgets. Training budgets are already stretched thin by the training required by the new nutrition standards. There is no money left to release personnel for training or to send personnel to addtional training during the summer months. The increased costs of meeting new nutritional guidelines has resulted in bugets so tight that additional training is not an option.
Posted by: Janet Winchester at 2/24/2014 1:53 PM

I find it very interesting that this proposal comes from a reccomendation and references a study by the Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.:They state and reference a survey that a percentage of directors with an educational degrees based on district size, yet according to the the summary, I did not see any statistics or questions on what types of educationsl experience or backgraund histroy of the school distrcts that responded to the survey. Did these stats come out of thin air? I agree with alot of the comments that have been posted thus far, equal experience should qualify for an educational degree. In addition, I am not aware of another Federal Program that requires a mandate on hiring or yearly educational training for LEA's. This proposal needs further review, even from a legal standing. Here comes another "Federal Unfunded Mandate" Reccomendations are one thing, requirements are another; they cost more money.
Posted by: Dan at 2/24/2014 2:45 PM

I am with many of the others. I think years experience in this industry should count. In small districts, directors wear many hats. Some one with a dietician degree would not want to perform all those different jobs, for the money that we are able to pay. I think we should have guildlines. I think we have more mandates than we can pay for now.
Posted by: dc at 2/24/2014 3:09 PM

I think any extra training is a great asset to employees and to the overall success of School Food Service programs...but, I do not think that we should have to pay for the training and if the training takes place after work hours then we should be paid for our time.
Posted by: Sherry Rains at 2/24/2014 3:14 PM

There is no amount of training that teaches how to love these children. These people are not in this for the money, because goodness knows it is very little. These people are in it for the love of children. I can not understand WHY there are so many changes in the school lunch program. It started with the NEW Food Guidelines all the way to down to how "smart and Trained" these people are. Enough already. The food changes with all this whole wheat is bad enough. Let these people do the jobs they love. Do not make their lives harder, because of some new stupid rule. Let these "educated" people that come up with this stuff come try to walk a day in our shoes. That would stuck them all up! They would be too trier to LOOK for something to make everyone lives harder.
Posted by: Tammy at 2/24/2014 3:57 PM

This looks like a great opportunity for the SNA and the individual states to collaborate and find common ground in the creation of an FSE certification program.
Posted by: Jared Andresen at 2/24/2014 7:55 PM

I am in agreement that we should get proper training! It's finding the time for the training and paying for it that I don't agree with, I try to keep up with all the changes in foodservice it just all changes so fast we have a hard time.
I've worked in the school cafeteria for over 25 years I have learned a lot and still have a lot to learn.
I took the kitchen manager job last year with it came a $1.00 an hour raise and loads of responsibility. I don't believe schools are equipped to pay us to take on the challenges that USDA are trying to put on us!
I am a seasonal employee which means I am only paid when school is in session and a few days before start up any training is usually on my own time.
Posted by: Jo Lynn Anderson at 2/25/2014 5:53 AM

I like the idea of training it keeps you fresh and up to date also you can always learn something new. I believe it should be broken down into catergories because not every level of foodservice requires the same training some may need more than others and depending on the position. I do not think we should pay for it if it is required.
Posted by: Melissa Hunt at 2/25/2014 6:21 AM

I see no benefit in this idea because schools in rural areas do not have staff or patrons who would pursue this advanced education. I also think that this would push the operational costs of school food programs up in a time when we are battling budget challenges already.
Posted by: Dr. Michael Montgomery at 2/25/2014 9:34 AM

1. I don’t think the requirement that all employees have food safety training with the first 30 days of employment is realistic. I think it should be within at least 90 days of employment, to give employers time to find a class or teach a class for the employee.
2. The requirement for a director to have a food safety class within the last 3 years should be changed to 5 years. This coincides with the 5 year Serve Safe certificate program.
3. The requirements for the director of the 10,000-24,999 enrollment school district is the same as over 25,000 enrollment school district. I would just drop the over 25,000 enrollment size.
4. Who decides what a related field is for the Bachelor’s degree?
5. How many States have a State Recognized Certificate? There is no way there is any consistency in those certificates from one state to another.
6. It is not feasible at all for the state to provide training for all the state School Nutrition Directors, School Nutrition Managers, and School Nutrition Employees. Even though they normally provide training, to extend that training to all levels of employees would be a disaster and a tremendous burden.
7. How will someone be able to decide if someone has extensive training in one of the four areas in order to be a State Director? Especially, if they do not have background in those areas themselves.
8. Add that if you are an RD, you would qualify for all levels for a District Director position.
9. If you require School Nutrition Program experience to be a District Director as one of the ways to qualify, is that manager or can it be employee experience?
10. Strongly encouraging “anything” without having any teeth to that requirement, is worthless.
Posted by: Donna S. Martin at 2/25/2014 12:19 PM

I went through a year's worth of School Nutrition magazines and looked at the In Profile pages. These are presumably the best and brightest in our field inclding FAME winners, state presidents and those reconized as Outstanding Directors. Not everyone who was profiled was a director but eight were. Based on the information provided in the article only THREE of these outstanding people were eligible to be the directors of the programs according to the new standards. This is a pretty low number, less than 50%. The ones who didn't qualify included a person who worked their way up from a cook to a director, two people with a masters degree in education and experience teaching vocational education, one person who was a department secretary who became a director, one person who had a biology/chemistry degree and worked in Head Start. It is clear that these standards will not allow districts to accomodate the great variety of skills and talents even the most outstanding among us possess.
Posted by: Sarah Spero at 2/25/2014 1:20 PM

I totally agree with the fact that staff should be well trained, but it certainly should be up to EACH school district to determine when and how much training is required. NOT THE USDA! After 24 years of Child Nutrition I know when I get a new employee they must have training and therefore I make sure they receive it.
Training that requires additional personal time is unreasonable. Support personnel are not paid for their additional time. I have never been paid for my meetings or training unless they are during a regular school day. Of course training during regular school day, that certainly will not work for the entire cafeteria staff to be able to attend.
Then there is the matter of the manager or director to have a bachelor or master’s degree, I can assure you over time, there will be a lot of unfilled positions! You will not be able to find a person who has worked hard enough to get a bachelor's degree to do my job at my pay scale nor can most school district afford to pay more. Then what will the district be forced to do? They must have school and they must feed students so they will have a "make do" with what they can. So the meals will not be balanced correctly.
Bottom line is this is not a well thought out plan. It will be another poor decision made by people who sit behind a desk and make new regulations so they "look good" regardless of how they actually work.
When I started this job we went to work shops and were taught we are here for the students and NOT adults. Now we are here to provide a paper trail for adults and make people think we are feeding children healthy meals. Now students actually don't eat their meal nearly as well as when we prepared Nutrient Standard Menus. Some day God will decide to move me on but for now He has me here to feed His children.
May God help us all.
Posted by: Tonia Carter at 2/25/2014 2:06 PM

In any career we must invest in additional education not only to keep up but to continue to challenge ourselves in any position or level that we are in the organization. We may need some to "lean in" to assist other to achieve . We have come to a point where we do need some consistant benchmark eductaion and training levels for our profession .
Posted by: Dusty Rose at 2/25/2014 3:50 PM

Operating a program that serves young minds in a school district is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. I feel ongoing training should be required of all staff at the state level, and local level regardless of experience.
The one item of concern relating to this new provision is cost. Staff at the administrative level and in the field will have to be paid for the extra time to meet continuing education expectations. There are indirect costs to training like travel or fees for a trainer. The current reimbursement rates and the extra six cents is not enough to cover another mandatory initiative. Raising meal prices in order to support this initiative will be a challenge at the local level.
School food service programs will need a training subsidy added to the reimbursement rates for training or engage in food related services outside normal school food service operations.
Posted by: Roland Cabading( Visit ) at 2/25/2014 4:36 PM

I feel as some of the other FSD's do in that it will really hurt the small schools financially to provide all the training OPI is asking for. I think that many of us have more skills through doing than by attending college classes. It is my hope that possibly each individual state be allowed to set their standards for schools.
Posted by: C.S. Wearley at 2/26/2014 6:59 PM

I do believe that staff should be well trained, however, I do not think the USDA should be dictating what we should be training. It should be up to each school district to decide what areas need training. It seems that USDA along with SNA's requirements of education for staff is ridiculous. Many of our staff (including assistant director) have been in Child Nutrition for a long time and "on the job" training is much more valuable than any degree. SNA is always begging for more members and for more involvement from members but yet is not willing to reduce their requirements with members who want to get "SNS credential". Training is costly and trying to get all staff together for training is extremely hard due to different lunch schedules. USDA needs to get out more and do some time in the trenches!
Posted by: Mary at 2/27/2014 11:09 AM

Serving the young minds of the future is a big responsibility. I agree that training and professional development should occur at all levels in school food service operations. The only reservation I have is the cost of the implementation.
-How does one justify increasing meal prices so staff can be trained and there are issues about high negative balances?
-Will the USDA increase meal reimbursements to help school food service programs with the cost of training?
-What will be the curriculum at each level of operations?
Posted by: Roland at 3/1/2014 5:09 PM

Please provide specifics regarding future director's requirements on what defines "equivalent educational experience." Also Arizona does not currently have a State recognized certificate in food and nutrition (per ADE). We do have the School Nutrition Association credentialing program. Would this be an acceptable state-recognized certificate to meet the requirement? Thanks.
Posted by: Donna Campbell at 3/4/2014 5:04 PM

Harsh requirements for the NS director to have a Master degree. Record keeping for yearly monitoring of progress and compliance of training requirements by employees. Why? You either do the training or leave/get fired. I work for a school district that already most of this on it's own. We have all employee meetings and SNA chapter meetings. We get a stipend for being certified. Some changes are good I admit.
Posted by: Rachel Socha at 3/11/2014 12:42 AM

1. <2,499 - also need to require a state recognized certificate.
2. >10,000 - those with a BS in any major should also require 1 year of experience in a smaller district.
3. Disagree with food safety training for new directors in 30 days. 1st 30 days are too overwhelming; require 90 days instead.
4. Too many training hours expected for managers & staff; too costly for many. Change to 8 hours for managers and 4 hours for others.
Posted by: Louise at 3/11/2014 9:11 AM

I have enjoyed reading these comments. After reading them, It looks to me that this proposal is flawed and needs to be scrapped until all of the people sitting in their cubicles in Washington DC writing this policy, get out and work in the schools and actually learn what these awesome ladies and men do in their kitchens and see how professional they really are. They do train and they do treat the kids professionally. So please just scrap this and let us be the professionals we are and just feed the kids.
Posted by: Dave Keck at 3/14/2014 1:10 PM

Our Cooks are trained. There are and have been good training programs in place by the Department of Public Instruction for training staff and for many years. I would like to see the poeple who are implementing this with there big ideas go in to the food service kitchens and run the program with all the new changes to regulations meal pattern,production records,food safety and and get paid the same salary that our hard working cooks do. This is what a cook does every day and more. Write menu plans for 3 different grade levels, Plan food orders,Write production plans, save nutrient labels on everything, stock and restock shelves, cook meals every day breakfast, lunch and snack, Serve students at different grade levels, wash and clean the kitchens every day, Food safety checks, temperature logs, production logs, transport food through wind,rain and snow, schedule employees, evaluate staff, train staff and much more. If your going to recommend higher education in the food service it has to be paid for in another way because food service cannot handle the burden of paying what the expected salary of Registered Dieticians may be. The smaller schools get the shaft because they are always doing the above with little or no help because there is no budget. Also with all the different associations that DPI uses for information like the School Nutrition Association, Institute of Food NFSMI, American Dietetic Association, Healthy Kids, USDA -DOD- how many more areas do you want food service staff to study? OVERLOAD at it Best. With all the varibles in each district on the job training does work. Everyone wants a decent living wage it should not have to come off the backs of the generation before us who have struggled and did not have the means to go to college to give this generation a better life. Associate degree in nutrition or dietetics and some business/accounting classes for those that oversee the the entire program is a good place to start. Most schools have an business administrator and accountant along with the food service director that run the finance as a team and that is where more training should be done.
Posted by: Brenda( Visit ) at 3/16/2014 3:27 PM

I am pleased to see standards developed for the school nutrition program. Training is needed in different degrees in accordance with levels of responsibility. I do not see the need for requiring degrees.
I am deeply disturbed by the sentence explaining the reasoning behind the need for college degrees. “This is intended to bolster the credential levels of school nutrition program directors and enhance their practical experience with training and formal academic instruction.” I do not believe that holding college degree will make a better director than someone without a degree who has many hours of state sanctioned training in Food Safety, Sanitation, USDA Regulations, State Regulations, Health Code Regulations, Purchasing, and Personnel Management. This is a very specialized field. College classes cannot prepare Child Nutrition Directors as much as practical, on the job training and experience. Along with federal guidelines, regulations and mandates, each state has its own guidelines, regulations and mandates.
I have watched as Child Nutrition Directors having Bachelor degrees run financially sound, well operated child nutrition programs into ruins. At the same time I have seen directors with High School diplomas who have received good training turn poor programs into financially sound programs with high participation.
After visiting with several directors in our state who have degrees, not one could tell me it made their program better. The specialized training they have received is what guided them.
If we need college degrees to make us feel competent or for others to see us as professionals, we are not doing our job well.
Posted by: Robin Kinder at 3/17/2014 4:24 PM

Training, that is the key to any professional in any organization. I have been rigorously trained by our state, which as an excellent program. We are also required to attend training throughout the year, but I believe that hands on experience plays a more important part in our business.
It is more important to make sure that our children have well balanced meals and also for us to be able to do the day to day job of being a Director without more regulations from USDA.
I disagree with the proposed regulations. I believe it to be too stringent and it does not take in to account the endless hours in a cafeteria, working your way up the ladder to a better position.
Posted by: Belinda at 3/19/2014 1:38 PM

I have been in this business for 16 years. I started as a sub, cook, manager & now a field manager. I have worked extremely hard to move up in my position. If the new professional standards pass, there want be anyway that I could advance to be a supervisor. I am certified at Level 3 through SNA & I go to state training to try to stay on top of the on going changes that USDA has already implanted. I think my experience in the kitchen far out weighs any degree. A college degree looks good on paper but it's no match to experience in the field. I think that the government need to quit with all these new changes & let us get back to feeding the children. That's hat it's all about. They need to come and work in our shoes for one day and they would quit this non sense.
Posted by: Kristy at 3/24/2014 3:13 PM

I think it should be up to individual states to decide who can/cannot be a manager/director and what requirements school foodservice employees need. Each state varies in its economics and needs for these positions. Not many small schools will be able to afford to hire someone with a degree on the limited budgets they are given by the school district. I am sure that the NSLP is not going to give extra funds to schools who hire someone with a degree. In some states you may be able to do this and in some larger cities--just cannot see it happening in small towns. I am lucky enough to have a degree but it is through hard work, experience and our states willingness to help train that our staff and myself can run our program.
Posted by: MIKE RENBARGER at 3/26/2014 4:13 PM

First off I have been preparing meals , and cooking since I was 12 years old . I have been in food service for 15 years now , with No problems in my job so far ! I have been a Manager for 10 years , and I performed these duties just fine without a G.E.D. . To have to take time to go back to high school and learn all about English , Science , Social studies ect. is ludicrous ! I am 50 years old now , and I have even Managed a 10 resident home for the Elderly Mental Hadicapped . Took a 3 day course at the age of 18 , to hand out medication to these elderly residents. And performed a wonderful job . I think people who have been working in School Food Service , should be Grandfarthered to continue in there jobs ! We always take updated classes ect. I have a real huge fear of loosing my job , after all these years of dedication and hard work . I am asking people to really strongly think about our futures . Loosing my job now would be horrible for a woman my age . Please , Please hear our voices , as I know I am not the only Lady without a G.E.D. Sincerely : Pamela soule
Posted by: pamela at 3/30/2014 10:46 AM

At one time, I thought having professional standards sounded just great. That is until I started to read some of the proposed requirements. I do like the idea of some type of standards for directors, such as becoming credentialed within a certain period of time, but a degree is not always necessary nor a guarantee of success. We had a fabulous director in OK with 3 years of college who ran one of the best programs in our state. She retired and was replaced with an RD who had an MBA, and she ran the program in to the ground in less than three years. And as many others have pointed out, this is really a local control issue for individual districts. Rural communities in our state would have a very difficult time finding individuals with associate degrees to become new directors.

As for the staff training, I don't see how this should be anything but a local decision. I train my employees, and would have no problem meeting these requirements, however, I train them on different areas each year, as the need arises, and don't feel it is up to USDA to tell me what my employees need.

We recently passed our review with flying colors, we pass all of our state sanitation inspections without incident, and our participation is good (enough) with all of the changes.

I think we are all tired of USDA employees who have never worked in a commercial food setting, telling our hard working employees how to do their job better. We've absorbed an awful lot of changes and need a rest.
Posted by: Nancy Sitler at 4/1/2014 3:59 PM

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