Proposed rule allows small districts flexiblity in hiring school nutrition directors

The Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), recently proposed rule FNS 2017-0039 which addresses some of the challenges small districts face in hiring school nutrition director candidates.

The USDA describes the proposed changes as follows:

  • “First, to address the hiring challenge faced by small LEAs, those with 2,499 or fewer students, this rule would require relevant food service experience rather than school nutrition program experience for new directors.
  • Second, it would provide State agencies with discretion to consider volunteer or unpaid work as relevant food service experience for new school nutrition program directors in small LEAs.
  • Third, to further assist LEAs with less than 500 students, this proposed rule  would expand the existing regulatory flexibility which gives State agencies discretion to accept less than the required years of food service experience when an applicant for a new director position has the minimum required education.
  • Fourth, this rule would also add flexibility to the hiring standards for State directors of school nutrition programs by considering applicants with either a bachelor's or a master's degree in specific, relevant fields.”

NSBA supports the proposed change to hiring requirements and welcomes the much needed flexibility it provides for districts to run their meal programs successfully. NSBA also urges the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to consult and engage in meaningful conversations with district leaders, including school board members, with an eye to affording further autonomy and relief to school districts. NSBA filed comments in response to the USDA's request.  The comments are available here.

Proposed rule FNS 2017-0039 is available in its entirety at

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