The lunch lady is a thing of the past. The proper title is food service assistant. The job title is not the only thing that has changed. People have the opportunity to further their careers by getting a college or technical school degree in the food service industry. The work being done by these capable people is not always easy. There are physical conditions which must be met. Nutritional guidelines are common knowledge to the food service assistant. These are just two of the things needed to be competent at the job. Serving the food while abiding by proper health codes is also necessary. This task can be frustrating at times, but a qualified food service assistant can accomplish the job.
The duties of the school food service assistant start with meal planning. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has instituted a food pyramid that outlines the basic nutrition needed for school-age children. The service assistant needs to know what is required in this pyramid so meals are planned accordingly. The assistant helps the head cook prepare the menu for a better understanding of what is required for each meal.
The food service assistant cleans the food preparation area and maintains a safe environment for preparing and cooking the food items. The machines, equipment and utensils used in the food preparation should be inspected each time they are used to determine whether additional cleaning or maintenance is required. The food service assistant should have a knowledge of how certain machines are torn down, thoroughly cleaned and put back together so the units function properly. These machines could include the mixers, warming tables and other equipment.
Actually serving the food is important and should not be overlooked. Healthy portions are determined by the food pyramid and the server should abide by these guidelines. As a food service assistant, one of duties includes serving the food in the appropriate portions. Attention to the temperature of the food is also important. Health codes dictate the temperature at which certain foods must be kept. If the food falls out of these safe temperature ranges, it must be removed and replaced with other food.
The food service assistant must know how to properly store fresh, frozen and leftover food items. It is the duty of the assistant to put away any leftover foods before the risk of bacteria develops. This duty must be performed in a safe and practical manner. Containers should be sealed and placed in the appropriate storage area, whether it is the refrigerator, freezer or stock room.
There are times when the food service assistant needs to keep simple records of how many meals were served or what portions were left over. Records of inventory are also important so the head cook can better be informed of what is available for the next menu.
The role of the school food service assistant includes taking inventory of the food stocks and other items used by the kitchen staff. The work load is considered medium work because of the lifting of some items in stock. 50 pound bags of flour or other ingredients are often used in cooking and preparing food for a school cafeteria. Heavy lifting is involved when storing these items. The assistant must also know where to safely store certain food items, according to health regulations, when they are delivered by the supply companies.
The food service assistant should stay informed of all nutritional information, kitchen supplies and health codes. The assistant may serve as head cook during certain times if necessary. The assistant would then need to plan the menu, order supplies and oversee the operations of the cafeteria and kitchen.
U.S. Dept. of Labor Dictionary of Occupational Titleshttp://www.oalj.dol.gov/PUBLIC/DOT/REFERENCES/DOT03A.HTM Food Service Assistant Job Descriptionhttp://www.polk-fl.net/districtinfo/departments/businessservices/foodservice/documents/FoodserviceAssitantJobDescription.pdf Requirements of a Food Service Assistanthttp://188.8.131.52/search?q=cache:hjc3g8prUKwJ:www.manhattan.k12.ca.us/pdf/hr/Job_Description/Food_Service_Assistant_II.pdf+%22http://www.manhattan.k12.ca.us/pdf/hr/Job_Description/Food_Service_Assistant_II.pdf.%22&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us
National Food Service Management Institutehttp://www.nfsmi.org/Templates/TemplateDefault.aspx?qs=cElEPTE3NiZpc01ncj10cnVl Guide for Food Service Educationhttp://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/custom/portlets/recordDetails/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=ED119804&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&accno=ED119804