Dietary Assistant Job Description
A dietary assistant, also referred to as a dietary aide or dietetic technician, is responsible for preparing food for individuals in various settings, from the healthcare sector to assisted living facilities or the patient’s own home. The tasks involved with this job include cooking food, maintaining a clean kitchen environment, and checking that the proper procedures have been followed for health and safety measures.
Dietary assistants can work full or part-time and may be required to work evenings or weekends to accommodate clients. This role is well-suited to people with strong teamworking abilities, experience of working in food preparation-related environments, and who have a customer-oriented approach.
Dietary Assistant Duties and Responsibilities
The type of organization a dietary assistant works for will determine the exact roles and responsibilities. Based on job listings we analyzed, a dietary assistant’s duties typically involve:
The key task in a dietary assistant’s day is preparing and cooking food for patients or individuals in assisted living facilities or healthcare centers. This part of the role requires food preparation knowledge and the ability to maintain impeccable hygiene standards.
Maintain Work Environment
Keeping a clean kitchen environment and ensuring that all equipment is kept in good working order is important to a dietary assistant’s role, as food safety regulations must be met at all times for the patients’ health and for legal compliance.
Monitor and Record Consumption
Dietary assistants ensure that clients are served meals which meet their individual nutritional needs, so keeping a clear record of each client’s consumption is critical to achieving this. These records will then be used by dieticians and physicians to monitor the health of the individual.
Provide Nutrition Information
Some dietary assistants need to have knowledge of the nutritional value to foods and meals, as they may be required to educate patients and clients as to why they’re eating certain things. Dietary assistants need to be educated about a patient’s requirements so that they can better explain the reason behind ingredients.
Dietary assistants stock ingredients and monitor the inventory of produce. They keep track of expenses, plan the menus for the coming weeks, and report any issues with the inventory to their superior.
Dietary Assistant Skills and Qualifications
Dietary assistants have experience preparing and serving food, working as part of a team, and maintaining health and safety regulations. Typically, employers require a high school diploma and often a food preparation certificate, as well as the following abilities:
- Food Safety – Dietary assistants are familiar with the latest food safety regulations and put them into practice daily to meet health and safety compliance
- Stamina – This role can be physically demanding, with long hours spent standing. Dietary assistants are physically fit and have a good stamina to keep up with long shifts
- Communication Skills – Dietary assistants communicate well with others, hold a professional demeanor, and listen to as well as follow clearly all instructions
- Customer Service – Dietary assistants work with individuals, such as people in assisted living facilities, so they need to have a customer-oriented approach to their work and put the needs of the patient first
- Teamwork – This role requires the ability to work well with others, as dietary assistants function as part of a larger team and need to be able to assist their colleagues to ensure all tasks are done to schedule
Dietary Assistant Education and Training
The minimum requirement to become a dietary assistant is a high school diploma, although applicants with a relevant postsecondary qualification may find this advantageous to their resume. Depending on the state the job is situated in, employer’s may request a food service or food preparation certification as well.
Dietary Assistant Salary and Outlook
The median annual salary for dietary assistants, categorized as dietetic technicians, is $26,500, with the lowest paid earning about $19,000 a year and the highest paid making more than $46,000 annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The BLS predicts continued strong growth, amounting to a 13 percent increase through 2024.
We’ve collected some of the best resources to help you begin a career as a dietary assistant:
Understanding Food: Principles and Preparation (5th edition) – This book by Amy Christine Brown covers the foundations of food preparation, food service, and food science. Ideally suited to anyone in the food preparation industry, this useful guide gives a thorough overview of the dimensions of food principles and helps to build knowledge around different foods.
Nutrition Through the Life Cycle – Now in its sixth edition, this in-depth book by Judith E. Brown helps to explain the impact of diet on health, with an overview of the latest research and an exploration of the different ways that nutrition can impact growth, development, and bodily functions.
Always Food Safe Blog – This blog provides a great selection of food preparation-related posts to encourage proper food safety and help readers to learn new skills and techniques to ensure consistent standards in the kitchen.
Associate for Nutrition and Foodservice Professionals (ANFP) – For anyone developing a career as a dietary assistant, this site is a great resource for education requirements, industry news, and events. ANFP provides readers with information on how to stay up-to-date with the latest food safety regulations as well as on best practice tips.
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