The Final Ruling
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 gets a small education makeover.
Since the start of the National School Lunch Program in 1946, more than 224 billion lunches have been served to children in schools throughout the country! The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 has since generated a large focus on nutrition and the food we serve our children. The final rule is another avenue to expand this focus onto those who interact with the participants of lunch and breakfast programs every day.
On July 1st, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) implemented a final rule on the minimum professional standards for school nutrition personnel.
The new provisions, under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 will amend the Child Nutrition Act of 1966, section 7. Continued annual education and training will now be required for all school nutrition personnel. Increased base line education, certification, and training for new hires within in the school programs will also be required.
Prior to the new provisions, annual training was not controlled. The hope of these changes is to begin regulating the education, training, and certification of employees to provide the proper skills and tools needed within the school nutrition programs. In an ever changing field like nutrition, continued annual education will provide school nutrition employees the knowledge to create well-rounded meals that meet the USDA’s meal standards.
How Will This Affect Me?
The new professional standards will affect school lunch and breakfast programs differently depending on the number of students enrolled.
Are you looking for a new nutrition program director for your school lunch program? Well, listen up! Are you a school with a student enrollment of 10,000 or more? The new provisions will require a new director hire to have either:
- A bachelor’s degree within one of the designated fields of study*, or a school nutrition director recognized certificate if their major field of study does not fall in the designated areas; or
- Five years of relevant management experience within a school nutrition program and a Bachelor’s degree in any area of study.
Do you have 2,500 – 9,999 students? The new provisions will allow you to hire a new director under the same qualifications of a school with 10,000 students or more. However, you can also hire someone with:
- An associate’s degree for an academic major within the designated fields* and two years of relevant experience within a school nutrition program.
Working in a smaller school with student enrollment at 2,499 or less? New hires for a director’s position must have:
- A high school diploma and at least 3 years experience within a school nutrition program; or
- Any of qualifications listed within the previous student enrollment categories.
- If a new director hire does not have an associate’s degree, it is highly recommend they work towards receiving one upon hire.
Are you a local education agency (LEA) with 500 students or less? You may ask for approval of a candidate through your state agency if the candidate does not have three years’ experience but meets the education standards.
Director positions of all student enrollment categories will require the completion of at least 8 hours of food safety training no more than 3 years prior to their start date.
Current State Directors and School Nutrition Program Directors may be grandfathered into the Minimum Professional Standards. Current employees will not be required to seek out higher education if they do not meet the minimum requirements. However, current employees (including directors, managers, and staff) are not exempt from the new continuing education requirements put into place with the final rule.
The annual hours of continuing education for the 2015-2016 school year range from 4 to 8 hours per year depending on your position. The hours will increase in 2016/2017 to range from 4 to 12 hours, again depending on your position. The annual training and education hours can be completed through a variety of ways and avenues and a few are listed below.
Is This a Good Thing?
Yes! The final rule was not implemented by the FNS without extensive input from current State Nutrition Directors and their staff, LEA’s, stakeholders, and professional associations. The various inputs covered topics from challenges associated with this change to the resources needed to implement them.
Overall, the new provisions will provide schools and students with qualified directors and staff who will serve nutritionally rich foods and balanced meals to help our kids grow up strong!
Worried About Reaching Your Required Annual Continued Education?
Don’t be! Reinhart Foodservice is here to help you along the way! In addition to the resources provided by the USDA, Reinhart offers various tools and resources that can be used to complete the continued education hours.
References: USDA Professional Standards Summary of Hiring Requirements for School Nutrition Program Directors. Available at http://www.esc4.net/users/0255/CN-DOCS/Reference%20Information/Professional%20Standards/ProfessionalStandards-SummariesMay2015.pdf
Professional standards for state and local school nutrition programs personnel as required by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010: A rule by the Food and Nutrition Service. Available at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-03-02/pdf/2015-04234.pdf
*Designated Fields: ”Specific majors/areas of concentration from: food service management, dietetics, family and consumer sciences, nutrition education, culinary arts, business, or a related field.” (Taken from the USDA Professional Standards Summary of Hiring Requirements for School Nutrition Program Directors.)