Training: An Opportunity for People with Disabilities in School Foodservice Operations

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Arendt, Susan
Strohbehn, Catherine
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Apparel, Events and Hospitality Management

Purpose/Objectives This study assessed current training methods and topics used at public school foodservice operations as well as school foodservice representatives’ attitudes toward training employees with disabilities.

Methods A mixed method approach of data collection included two phases. Phase I used a more qualitative approach; interviews were conducted with three experienced school foodservice directors. Phase II used a more quantitative approach whereby an online questionnaire was developed based on interview results. The questionnaire was sent to all school foodservice representatives in Iowa (N = 363). Interview transcripts were analyzed manually and with Atlas.ti™, a qualitative software package. Questionnaire responses were analyzed using SPSS; descriptive statistics, including frequencies, means, and standard deviations, were computed.

Results Of the 363 questionnaires mailed to school foodservice representatives, 77 completed questionnaires were received for a response rate of 22%. Respondents reported the most common training methods (on-the-job and demonstrations), tools (texts/ manuals and audio/video tapes), and topics (food safety and cleaning procedures) used for all employees in their operations. Respondents agreed that different training methods needed to be used with employees with disabilities. Providing training for employees with disabilities on technical, communication, and social skills was reported as important so employees were prepared to do their jobs effectively.

Applications to Child Nutrition Professionals To assure compliance with updates to the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) that went into effect January 8, 2009, it is imperative child nutrition professionals consider appropriate ways to integrate people with disabilities into their workforces. This study provided information about school foodservice representatives’ attitudes on training methods used with and overall attitudes toward employees with disabilities. Foodservice directors may need to use different training methods covering technical, communication and social skills with employees with different types of disabilities in order to provide opportunities for them to succeed at their jobs.


This is an article from Journal of Child Nutrition and Management. 2011, 35(1). Posted with permission.

Sat Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2011