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CCPS trainees get training on creative ways to make the most out of fewer ingredients and much more.

Clayton County (Ga.) Public Schools chef/trainer uses training program to unify food service team

Training “finds the leaders, maintains a healthy environment that’s suitable for growth” for the foodservice team at Clayton County (Ga.) Public Schools (CCPS), where they’re tasked with feeding one of Georgia’s biggest districts.

Just like anywhere else, labor and food cost are the issues of the day for the foodservice team at Clayton County (Ga.) Public Schools (CCPS). Chef/trainer James Jabbarr teaches a 30-hour, state-mandated training course, Training in Depth 4, that’s been adapted for a pandemic-scarred industry finding its way in a different world. He says that while the training itself isn’t new, its importance is more apparent than ever, and the fine-tuning has led to a better handle on labor and food cost.

“As it pertains to labor and the labor crisis, first: There are two financial pillars in our industry that must be controlled: Labor cost and food cost,” Jabbarr says. “This year’s course emphasized food cost by including multi-use of base ingredients.”

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An example includes getting creatively efficient with chicken patties, producing four or five different menu items from that one patty, such as a sandwich, a wrap, chicken cordon bleu and chicken taco salad. Streamlining menus without taking variety out of the equation has been the goal, Jabbarr says. “Having fewer base ingredients helps out on efficiency as it relates to storage, food handling and serving.”

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Trainees starting at CCPS get instruction in the areas of procurement, food production, meal service, financial management, food safety, knife skills, cooking skills and customer service, all according to local, state and federal guidelines.

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Chef/trainer James Jabbarr says training is now more critical than ever to face the labor crisis.

Efficiency is just one part of the training program’s intent; good training also means reducing the chance for inconsistent recipes, injuries on the job and loss of state and federal funding. And, “training unifies,” Jabbarr says. “It upholds uniformity and quality. Great training provokes input from the trainees, since they are in the trenches.”

For the upcoming school year, Jabbarr and the team are looking forward to in-person classes and a return to the fun activities that put a smile on kids’ faces (including Jabbarr’s magic show and Darth Vader impersonation!) Stay tuned for more on this journey. 

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