A school food service director is responsible for planning student lunch menus. In addition to possessing a knowledge of childhood nutrition, they also ensure kitchen accessories are properly maintained, oversee scheduling, manage supplies, handle payroll duties, and train staff. Although not a requirement, completing a degree in food service management or hospitality can help to prepare an individual for the demands of this career.
School food service directors oversee the menu planning and service for lunch at schools, usually public elementary and secondary schools. They are responsible for training employees, coordinating serving schedules, ordering supplies, and maintaining food preparation equipment. Although training through work experience in the food service industry can prepare individuals for this career, aspiring school food service directors may earn an undergraduate degree in food service or hospitality management. They also need to have an understanding of children's nutrition.
|Required Education||Optional completion of a degree in hospitality or food service management|
|Other Requirements||Food service industry experience and knowledge of children's nutrition|
|Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)*||11% (all food service managers)|
|Average Salary (2018)*||$65,730 annually (all food service managers in elementary and secondary schools)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
In May 2018, the BLS reported that food service managers in the 90th percentile or higher earned $92,410 or more per year, whereas the bottom 10th percentile earned $31,580 or less per year. Individuals who worked in secondary and elementary schools earned an average annual salary of $65,730 in that same year.
The primary responsibilities for school food service directors are the day-to-day operations of cafeterias and food stands serving food in schools. Meal planning is a major component of the job; it's important for individuals in this capacity to have a working knowledge of food preparation and food safety techniques. A school food service director must be able to operate and oversee the upkeep of all kitchen equipment.
School food service directors are responsible for hiring, training, and dismissing food service workers. Employee-related duties include keeping work and training records, managing payroll, and coordinating schedules and shifts. Also, food service directors need to possess strong leadership and administration skills, be effective communicators, and have a solid knowledge of food production.
The BLS reports that the number of jobs for food service directors, including those working at schools, was expected to increase much faster than the average between 2018 and 2028. Competition for jobs is expected to be fierce through the close of this decade, with individuals with experience and education pertaining to the field having distinct advantages in acquiring positions.
Education and Experience
Experience in the food service industry, either as a cook or server, is the most typical type of training for a food service director. Although it may not be required, potential school food service directors should consider obtaining an undergraduate degree in hospitality or food service management. They should also have knowledge about children's nutrition.
In addition to an optional degree, relevant food service experience is typically required for aspiring food service directors. As preparing food for children and teenagers is the primary responsibility of this job, these directors need to exercise food safety measures at all times. While the BLS reports an increase in employment opportunities for this industry, it also indicates that competition for jobs will be fierce through 2028.