01.04.19 - Cook Job Description

Cook Job Description Policy Number and Last Update

Title: Cook

Reports to: Health Services Coordinator

Supervises: None

FLSA: Non-Exempt

General Summary:

Under the general supervision of the Health Services Coordinator and with guidance from the contracted Nutritionist, the Cook is responsible for guaranteeing that the children are served nutritious, good tasting and appealing meals and snacks. It is the Cook's responsibility to prepare these meals and snacks by methods that maintain high nutrient levels and that are sanitary. It is also the Cook's duty to deliver meals to the classroom ready for family style meal service and suitable for the children's age and development. The Cook purchases all food and supplies necessary and keeps records required by the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), the Delegate Agency and the Grantee. This position involves extensive organizing, problem solving, record keeping, and time management.

Essential Functions:

  1. Plans and prepares foods in accordance with the Illinois Migrant & Seasonal Head Start Project's Food Service Policy, Menus and Recipes.
  2. Purchases food and supplies necessary to prepare the planned menus for the number of enrolled children and program staff.
  3. Plans meals far enough ahead to minimize the need for food substitutions; when substitutions are necessary, with prior approval, purchases and serves food of equivalent nutritional value. With guidance from the Nutritionist, modifies menus for children's field trips; notes all modifications and substitutes on posted menu and for CACFP records.
  4. Prepares meals and snacks in such a way that a minimum of nutrients are lost from foods, that ensure foods taste good and look appealing, and that there are ample amounts of foods for children to have as many servings as they need.
  5. Maintains established standards of sanitation, safety and food preparation and storage as set by the local and state health departments; maintains an orderly, sanitary, and safe kitchen.
  6. With the guidance of the contracted Nutritionist, modifies menus and recipes and prepares foods to meet the developmental needs of infants and toddlers and the medical and feeding needs of children with disabilities or food allergies.
  7. Delivers foods from the kitchen to the classrooms ready to be served as suitable for the children's age and development. (See guidance)
  8. Shares duties with the Assistant Cook(s) (if any) for efficient functioning of food service program.
  9. Maintains cost control, budget and inventory systems based on CAFCP procedures including records of food production, service and attendance.
  10. Assures the proper care and maintenance of all food service equipment; identifies equipment needs for food preparation and service and assists in purchasing as needed.
  11. Assists teachers with developing food activities for the children in the classroom.
  12. Cooperates with and participates in nutrition education activities for staff, parents and children.
  13. Participates in all emergency drills and environmental safety activities.
  14. Attends and participates in grantee-sponsored trainings, center pre-service and in-service trainings, and other continuing education, career and professional development opportunities.
  15. Participates in the agency's self-evaluation process and grantee monitoring visits and complies with any applicable Program Improvement Plans developed.
  16. Participates in general staff meetings and other meetings and events planned by the grantee and delegate agency as requested.
  17. Performs other duties, as assigned.

The above statements are intended to describe the general nature and level of work performed by a person in this position. They are not to be construed as an exhaustive list of all duties that may be performed in such a position.

Recommended Employment Qualifications


It is preferred that the Cook have course work and training in foods, nutrition and/or dietetics. It is also preferred that the Cook possess a current Food Handlers Certificate at the time of hiring. A commitment to secure continuing education related to employment with the Agency is required.


Possess knowledge of the principles and practices and current state of child nutrition and of the eating habits of the children served in the program. Demonstrated skills in preparing these foods in a nutritious, good tasting and appealing manner. Experience in child food service preparation and management desirable. Knowledge of CACFP requirements also desirable. Knowledge of the challenges and strengths of low-income and migrant families. Effective oral and written communication skills commensurate with the responsibilities of the position are required. Bilingual, both oral and written, ability (English/Spanish) is preferred.

Additional Requirements:

Regular access to a reliable vehicle; have a valid Illinois driver's license and vehicle insurance. Ability to pass a physical exam every two years and a TB test yearly. Must be able to comply with background check, including fingerprints, as required by the agency and/or Illinois Licensing Agency. Successful experience working as an effective member of a team. Ability to present a positive image of the organization to members of the community. Visual acuity within professionally determined normal ranges, with correction if needed. Must be free of communicable diseases and breathing impairments. Manual dexterity sufficient to: use kitchen utensils and equipment, wash dishes, operate office equipment including, but not limited to, the telephone & copier, and use hand writing materials to prepare reports and documentation. Must have effective organizational, problem solving, time management and analytical skills. Must be able to travel periodically to trainings. Ability to learn and comprehend information from Procedures Manuals and other materials. Ability to calculate to determine number of meals to be served and to adjust recipes and serving portions. Must be able to physically move through grocery stores, the center and classrooms. Ability to lift 55 pounds is required. Experience successfully working with a culturally diverse staff & clients desirable. Must possess personal qualifications as required in Section 407.100 of the Illinois Licensing Standards for Day Care Centers, including: emotional maturity, willingness to cooperate with the aims of Head Start, respect for children and adults from various cultures and backgrounds, flexibility, patience, good personal hygiene, and physical and mental health that do not interfere with responsibilities.

Working Conditions:

Tasks that involve infrequent possible exposure to blood, bodily fluids or tissues. Risk involved with travel on main highway, side streets and rural roads during business travel, including occasional evening and weekend meetings and events. Tasks that involve handling implements or utensils, use of public or shared bathroom facilities or telephones and personal contacts are Category III tasks. Possible exposure to communicable diseases. This job involves standing for long periods as well as stooping, squatting, lifting and climbing. Must be able to travel, enter, and exit a vehicle without assistance and withstand exposure to adverse weather conditions. Proper clothing, shoes and hair restraints according to Health Department Standards are to be worn daily. If the applicant does not possess at time of hire, obtaining the Food Handlers Certificate within six months of hiring is expected.

The qualifications listed above are guidelines for selection purposes; alternative qualifications may be substituted if sufficient to perform the duties.