As of July, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is enforcing new professional guidelines, including increased training requirements, for school nutrition staff. According to the School Nutrition Association (SNA), the USDA created the professional standards to help employees build skills, stay current on school nutrition programs and ensure proper training for school nutrition staff.
The new requirements mandate that by the end of the 2015-2016 school year, all school nutrition program directors complete eight hours of training, managers complete six hours, and both full and part-time staff complete four hours of training. For the 2016-2017 school year and beyond, employees are required to complete increased training hours. School nutrition program directors will complete 12 hours of training, managers will complete 10 hours, full- and part-time staff who work more than 20 hours will complete six hours and part-time staff who work less than 20 hours will complete four hours of training.
WORKS' newest online training course, "Food Safety for Food Handlers," was developed in coordination with the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA). This 65-minute course covers adequate cooking temperatures, how to use and care for food thermometers, how to prevent contamination throughout the food preparation and service process, and proper heating and cooling methods. This new course, which is one of 400+ courses available with the PublicSchoolWORKS EmployeeSafe Suite staff training system, can be used as part of a comprehensive training plan to meet the new requirements.
These increased training requirements can be burdensome for districts experiencing staff and/or budget cuts. Bloomington School District 87 in Bloomington, IL has implemented several online staff training courses from WORKS, including the Food Safety for Food Handlers course. With the online staff training, Director of School Nutrition and Wellness Julie McCoy can easily track which employees have completed the required trainings, making the follow-up and completion process simpler.
“PublicSchoolWORKS’ new training course has been a HUGE time saver for us in meeting the new professional standards from the USDA,” said Julie McCoy, Director of School Nutrition and Wellness Coordinator at Bloomington School District 87. “Also, PublicSchoolWORKS’ Research & Development department has been extremely helpful in communicating the new requirements to us. They gave us a beautifully laid-out breakdown which gives us visual documentation of the new requirements.”