At the moment, staffing shortages are a major obstacle in K-12 school food service. Nutrition directors and operators are struggling to get the employees they had prior to the pandemic back to the cafeteria. In fact, the food industry lost nearly 2.5 million jobs in 2020 alone.
It’s completely possible to fill the employment gaps across your program, but some clever recruitment tactics will help make it happen. One smart tactic: focusing on all the incredible benefits of a career in K-12 school food service. And while there are many reasons to choose a career in district food service, no job is perfect.
Let’s first take a look at some misconceptions recruits might have about food service in schools and how you can spin those myths.
You don’t get to cook whatever you want. It’s possible that you’ve interviewed candidates who thought they’d get to put their culinary skills to work. As you and I know, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has stringent rules about the food that is served to kids.
Another (obvious to most) limitation: you cannot cook with wine, beer, or spirits. And by cook, I mean in adding spirits to the food or drinking them while you cook. However, that doesn’t mean a food service person can’t get creative!
Balancing USDA regulations while also creating enjoyable meals for kids requires a deep understanding of ingredients, recipes and menus. Food service teams are solving challenges for each meal! Recently, supply chain issues have made the situation more complex, requiring creative problem solving. At its core, the best positions offer a lot interesting challenges and fun.
Now that we’ve taken a look at the need for creative problem solvers, let’s dive into the incredible benefits of working in K-12 school food service.
A career in school food service is very rewarding; you get to feed children from all economic backgrounds so they are nourished and ready to learn. Did you know that 1 in 6 children live with food insecurity? When one takes a job with a school nutrition department, they are doing their part to eliminate food insecurity for children.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the benefits of working in school nutrition.
Whether you’re casting the recruiting net far and wide or if you’re hyper-focused on parents and guardians, the benefits of working in school nutrition are undeniable. When you get an interested candidate, focus on driving home the benefits of working on a school food service team. Beyond ensuring students are nourished and ready to learn, school nutrition professionals benefit from a slew of benefits.
Don’t limit your recruiting to only those with food service experience; include recruitment messages where those in your education community will see them. Whether it’s your school menu or your school nutrition website, make sure to open up the opportunity to the community at large. You never know what amazing talent you’ll find.
One of LINQ’s K-12 nutrition experts explains what the latest USDA waivers mean for your nutrition program.
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