The John C. Stalker Institute
of Food and Nutrition

at Framingham State University


The Certificate in Excellence
in School Nutrition Program

The John C. Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition at Framingham State University offers an exceptional leadership opportunity for those working in school nutrition programs in Massachusetts and the USDA's New England region. The goal of this highly acclaimed five-course undergraduate program is to increase the knowledge and skills of directors and senior management in school nutrition programs.

State-Recognized Certification for School Nutrition Directors

USDA has established minimum professional standards requirements for school nutrition professionals who manage and operate the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. The standards, established in section 306 of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act require minimum education standards for new state and local school nutrition directors as well as annual training standards for all school nutrition professionals. The Office for Food and Nutrition Programs at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has accepted the Certificate in Excellence in School Nutrition as the State-recognized certification for school nutrition directors (SND) as outlined in the USDA Professional Standards hiring criteria for SNDs. Click here for an informational flyer about the program.

The Certificate in Excellence in School Nutrition Program advances the knowledge and skills of the school nutrition professional to:

Program Description

The program includes five undergraduate courses offered through Framingham State University (FSU), designed specifically for directors of school nutrition programs and managers who wish to advance in their school nutrition careers. Curriculum is based upon competencies identified by national research conducted by the Institute of Child Nutrition, the Massachusetts Statewide Needs Assessment and USDA Professional Standards and is designed to assure that directors and managers have the knowledge and skills needed to be successful leaders in school nutrition.

Courses in the program utilize a blended learning environment. This includes one to three face-to-face Saturday classes per semester from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at FSU combined with online conferencing classes scheduled on most Wednesdays from 4:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

classroom Read more about the program in the JSI blog.

Admission Requirements

  1. A high school diploma or GED or higher; applicants must submit an official transcript.
  2. Currently employed as a manager, assistant director or director in a school nutrition program in Massachusetts and USDA's New England region.
  3. A letter of recommendation from your supervisor submitted via the FSU online application.
  4. Phone interview with the program director.

For more information about this program and to apply, please visit the FSU Undergraduate Certificate in Excellence in School Nutrition webpage.


Course titles link to the course descriptions. Schedule of course offerings is subject to change.

Courses Suggested Learning Codes for USDA Professional Standards
NUTR 616   Nutrition and School Nutrition Programs 60 hours Nutrition (1100, 1200, 1300) SNA Approved Core Nutrition Education Course
NUTR 617   Foodservice Systems in School Nutrition Programs 12 hours Nutrition (1100), 12 hours Operations (2100, 2400), 28 hours Administration (3200, 3300, 3500), 8 hours Communications/Marketing (4110, 4160)
NUTR 618   Management of School Nutrition Programs 60 hours Administration (3200, 3300, 3400)
NUTR 619   Professional Development and Communication in School Nutrition 60 hours Communications/Marketing (4110, 4120, 4140, 4150, 4160)
NUTR 620   Computer Applications in School Nutrition 16 hours Nutrition ( 1100, 1300), 8 hours Operations (2400), 4 hours Administration (3300), 32 hours Communications/Marketing (4120, 4140, 4150)

Courses may be used towards the Liberal Studies Program at FSU and possibly degree programs at other universities. The program is appropriate for those with or without a bachelor's degree.

Technical Requirements

Program funding provided by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will support students working in Massachusetts school nutrition programs by loaning a laptop and headset to meet the technology requirements of the program.

Tuition and Fees

Please refer to the FSU Tuition and Fees web page for an up-to-date schedule of fees; some courses may require textbooks at an additional cost.


The Certificate in Excellence in School Nutrition program considers applicants on a rolling basis. Space is limited. To apply, please submit your application using the online FSU undergraduate certificate application.

Contact Information

Program Directors:

  1. Karen McGrail, MEd, RD, LDN
  2. Cathy Wickham, PhD, RD, CDN