As part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA), the USDA established minimum professional standards for school nutrition employees who manage and operate the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP).
HHFKA instituted hiring standards for new Food Service Directors and annual training requirements for all school nutrition employees.
Hiring Standards for New Food Service Directors
New directors hired on or after July 1, 2015 are required to meet minimum education standards and relevant food service experience. These hiring standards vary based on the enrollment of the School Food Authority (SFA).
All new Food Service Directors must meet the minimum hiring requirements in order for their salary to be an allowable school food service expense. Directors hired prior to July 1, 2015 are exempt from the hiring requirements.
Hiring Standards Exemption
SFAs with an enrollment of 2,499 or less that cannot recruit a candidate who meets the minimum hiring requirements may be eligible for an exemption. Contact Karrie Isaacson with any questions.
Food Safety Training
At least 8 hours of food safety training is required to be completed for all new Food Service Directors within 30 days of or not more than five years prior to their start date. A certification is not required, but encouraged. There is no exemption for the food safety training.
The Professional Standards regulations in 7 CFR 210.30 establish annual training requirements for all school nutrition program directors, managers and staff. This required annual continuing education will vary based on each employee’s role in the school nutrition program(s).
Annual Training Requirements
Food Service Directors: 12 hours
Managers: 10 hours
Staff who work in school nutrition 20 hours or more per week: 6 hours
Staff who work in school nutrition less than 20 hours per week: 4 hours
SFAs must establish a process for tracking and monitoring annual training for school nutrition employees.
USDA does not mandate a specific tool be used.
A tracking tool must include a trainee's:
- date of hire
- required hours of training
- Guide to Professional Standards for School Nutrition Programs
- Brochure: Professional Standard’s Brochure for All School Nutrition Employees
- USDA Professional Standards webpage
- Suggested Training Checklist
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) overview – DPI, September 2015
Policy and Guidance
- Final Rule: Hiring Flexibility under Professional Standards
- Questions & Answers on the Final Rule "Professional Standards for State and Local School Nutrition Programs Personnel as Required by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010" USDA, SP 38-2016, 5/26/16
- Professional Standards for State and Local School Nutrition Programs Personnel as Required by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, 7 CFR Parts 210 and 235
- USDA's Final Rule: Professional Standards for State and Local School Nutrition Programs Personnel as required by the HHFKA of 2010 DPI SNT, 04/30/15
- Professional Standards DPI SNT, 09/04/15
- Professional Standards Update DPI SNT, 09/13/16
Gina Kulka, SNS
Nutrition Program Consultant
Loriann Knapton, NDTR, SNS
Nutrition Program Consultant
For more information regarding new Food Service Director hiring requirements and exemptions: