The USDA has proposed the establishment of minimum national standards and training requirements for school nutrition professionals who manage and operate the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.
Acording to USDA, the standards aim to institute education and certification standards for school nutrition professionals to ensure that they have the training and tools they need to plan, prepare and purchase the products needed to create nutritious, safe and enjoyable school meals.
The proposal would...
• Create minimum hiring standards for school food authority directors based on a school district’s size;
• Establish minimum hiring standards for state directors of school nutrition and state distributing agencies; and
• Require minimum annual training for all new and current school nutrition professionals.
The School Nutrition Association (SNA) says it has assembled a task force of members to assess the impact of the proposed rule on school nutrition professionals and school meal programs, gather input from SNA members and craft the association’s official comments in response to the rule.
"School nutrition professionals work tirelessly to provide well balanced, nutritious school meals that support improved healthy and academic achievement for America’s students,” says SNA President Leah Schmidt, SNS. "SNA supports the development of professional standards to further elevate the quality and efficacy of school meal programs and enhance the public’s confidence in school nutrition professionals. We look forward to reviewing the details of USDA's proposed rule and providing SNA member feedback."
"Many school nutrition professionals already complete annual training that is similar to what we are recommending," says Dr. Janey Thornton, Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services; "for others, the standards will be new. These proposed standards will ensure that all school nutrition professionals meet the same national requirements as they prepare healthy meals served in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs."
Thornton says USDA's Food and Nutrition Service division will work to develop an easily accessible national database that will list available training resources by state. The SNA already has a set of established resources for advancing the professional development opportunities of school nutrition professionals, including educational conferences, webinars and certification/credentialing programs.