State of K-12 foodservice: Rethinking recruitment

Faced with persistent labor challenges, operators continue to come up with new ways to fight short-staffed teams.
Illustration: FSD staff / Shutterstock

As labor struggles continue for many K-12 operators, some are thinking outside of the box when it comes to hiring for the fall. 

This school year, Eric Enciso, food service director for Colton Joint Unified School District in Colton, Calif., is planning to shoot a “day in the life” video that showcases what a typical day on the job looks like for different members of the nutrition team. 

Enciso got the idea from fellow operator Betty Crocker, who heads the nutrition team at Redlands Unified School District in Redlands, Calif. 

Crocker partnered with her distirct’s HR department and public information officer to shoot and edit the video. 

“They brought their film crew, and they filmed a few key areas of our team, including our drive team, [the team at] our busiest high school, and [our teams at] our elementary and our middle school,” she says. “They made a whole series. It wasn't just one person, it had a department feel.”

The video now makes the rounds on social media as well as EDJOIN, an education job website. 

During job fairs, the team also plays the video on a screen at their booth for prospective candidates to watch while they’re waiting to talk with a team member. 

While one sole method hasn’t caused an overwhelming increase in job applications, Crocker says the video has been a helpful addition to the team’s other recruitment efforts. 

“It's kind of like the sprinkles on the cake,” she says. 

How are others recruiting?

Find your next new hire with these ideas from fellow operators. 

“We ‘spot’ potential employees at stores, restaurants, etc., and recruit them. We have little polka dot cards that say ‘You've Been Spotted’ with the pros of working for our department and application information.”

Karla Horton
Child Nutrition Supervisor 
Bossier Parish School Board Child Nutrition
Benton, La.

“[We have] business cards with QR codes for hiring. [We also] implemented a ‘hiring phone line’ so applicants don't need to place an online application at first.”

Maria Amerman
Nutrition Coordinator
Roseville Area Schools
Roseville, Minn.

“On the monthly menu, we advertise for parents to earn while their children learn. Word of mouth.”

Beatriz Sarant
Director of Food and Nutrition Services
Freeport Public Schools
Freeport, N.Y.

Read more of our 2023 State of K-12 Foodservice report. 



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