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Child Nutrition Program Career Ladder

Brief descriptions of career positions and contacts for additional information.

The Challenge

The school meal program plays a vital role in building a healthy school environment. To operate a successful meal program, child nutrition program personnel must be competent in planning, preparing, and serving meals that comply with the complex regulations and meet the needs of the children and youth they serve in a cost-effective manner.

This page includes a brief description of the many positions in the child nutrition program career ladder and provides contacts for further information for individuals who are considering a career in child nutrition programs or who wish to enhance knowledge and skills in their current position for upward mobility.

Child Nutrition Program Career Ladder

Brief Descriptions of Positions

A substitute is assigned on a temporary basis to replace absent kitchen employees and performs such tasks as preparing food, serving meals, and washing dishes.

A general assistant assists with the preparation and serving of food in child nutrition programs and often serves as a cashier and takes program responsibility at the point of sale.

A technical assistant is responsible for preparing food, cooking, baking, serving, and maintaining production records.

A site manager is responsible for the supervision of general and technical assistants and students at a kitchen site and for the supervision of meals at remote sites. The role of the site manager may vary, depending on the size of the district and/or school.

A supervisor coordinates child nutrition programs in a region of the district or agency or is assigned districtwide activities as specified by the director or administrator of child nutrition programs.

A nutrition education specialist promotes nutrition instruction in the classroom through coordination with teachers, parents, child nutrition program staff, and students.

A director is responsible for the overall operation of child nutrition programs under the supervision of a school district administrator.

A child nutrition program administrator is responsible for the overall operation of a program in a district of more than 50,000 average daily attendance.

Contacts for Additional Information

  1. Discuss your interest in additional courses and training with other district or agency-level staff.
  2. Contact your local community college or state university for information on courses in nutrition, food service management, and business.
  3. Request information from your local high school Adult Education Office on how to secure a high school equivalency diploma if you were not able to finish high school. You may also request a listing of courses in English and Arithmetic and courses in Spanish, Typing, Writing, and Computer Skills.
  4. Contact a California Professional Nutrition Education and Training (CAL-PRO-NET) Center for information on courses and career planning:
    • University of California Davis, 530-752-3387
    • San Jose State University, 408-924-3125
  5. Learn about School Nutrition Association’s professional development pathways External link opens in new window or tab. .
  6. Call or write:

California Department of Education
Nutrition Services Division
Nutrition Education and Training Section
1430 N Street, Suite 4503
Sacramento, CA 95814-5901
Toll-free: 800-952-5609, option 5

Questions:   Education and Nutrition Policy Unit | 800-952-5609
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The USDA and the CDE are equal opportunity providers and employers.
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