Model child nutrition programs in school districts and in child development agencies are emerging throughout California. The child nutrition programs will need qualified staff to maintain the existing programs and to expand these programs to additional school districts and agencies. To reach program goals, child nutrition personnel must know how to plan, prepare, and serve meals that meet recommended levels for optimum health and nutrition while also achieving cost-effective operation and management standards.
The focus of this page is on the educational background that individuals should consider when aspiring to a position in the child nutrition program. The three options that are suggested for each career level offer flexibility depending on the commitment the person can make to a sequential education and training program. The page provides guidance to personnel who wish to enhance knowledge and skills in their current position and also for students who are beginning their career plans.
Child Nutrition Program Career Ladder
- Nutrition Education Specialist
- Site Manager
- Technical Assistant
- General Assistant
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.
(See the Education Pathways in the Child Nutrition Profession page for more information on these careers.)
Contacts for Additional Information
- Discuss your interest in additional courses and training with other district or agency-level staff.
- Contact your local community college or state university for information on courses in nutrition, food service management, and business.
- 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.
- Contact a California Professional Nutrition Education and
Training (CAL-PRO-NET) Center for information on courses and
- University of California Davis, 530-752-3387
- Fresno City College, 209-442-4600 ext. 8312
- San Jose State University, 408-924-3125
- Call or write:
California Department of Education
Nutrition Services Division
Nutrition Education and Training Section
1430 N Street, Suite 1500
Sacramento, CA 95814-5901