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Careers in School Nutrition Programs

Brief definitions of key career positions and suggestions to enhance career opportunities.

The school meal program plays a vital role in building a healthy school environment. To operate a successful meal program, School Nutrition Programs (SNP) personnel must be competent in planning, preparing, and serving healthy, appealing, and cost-effective meals that comply with the complex regulations.

This page includes definitions of key positions in the SNPs and provides contacts for further information for individuals who are considering a career in SNPs or who wish to enhance knowledge and skills in their current position for upward mobility.

Key Positions in School Nutrition Programs

Job titles of school nutrition professionals vary across the agencies participating in the SNPs. Therefore, in the final rule on professional standards for school nutrition professionals, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines the positions based on their roles as follows:

  • Manager refers to the individual who is directly responsible for the day-to-day operations of the SNPs for one or more participating school(s), but not all participating schools in the SFA’s jurisdiction.
  • Staff refers to individuals without managerial responsibilities who are involved in routine operations of the SNPs for a participating school(s). Program staff may include, for example, those individuals who prepare and serve meals, process transactions at point of service, and review the free and reduced-price meal applications.

Suggestions to Enhance Career Opportunities

  • Visit the California Department of Education Professional Standards for SNP Personnel Web page to learn about the California-specific standards and available training opportunities and resources for professional development.
  • Contact one of the California Professional Nutrition Education and Training (Cal-Pro-NET) Centers for information on available training:
  • Discuss your interest in 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. You may also inquire if they offer courses in arithmetic, English, Spanish, typing, writing, and computer skills.
Questions:   Education and Nutrition Policy Unit | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, January 3, 2018
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