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Career and Education Opportunities for Food Service Aides in Alexandria, Virginia

Food service aides can find both educational opportunities and jobs in the Alexandria, Virginia area. The national trend for food service aides sees this job pool growing by about 4.2% over the next eight years. In general, food service aides perform a variety of food preparation duties other than cooking, such as preparing cold foods and shellfish, slicing meat, and brewing coffee or tea.

Food service aides earn about $9 per hour or $18,840 yearly on average in Virginia and about $8 hourly or $18,630 yearly on average nationally. Compared with people working in the overall category of Preparation, people working as food service aides in Virginia earn more. They earn more than people working in the overall category of Preparation nationally. People working as food service aides can fill a number of jobs, such as: meat clerk, crew mess attendant, and sandwich artist.

The Alexandria area is home to eighty-four schools of higher education, including two within twenty-five miles of Alexandria where you can get a degree as a food service aide. The most common level of education for food service aides is less than a high school diploma. It will take only a short time to learn to be a food service aide if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Food Service Aide

Food Service Aide video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, food service aides perform a variety of food preparation duties other than cooking, such as preparing cold foods and shellfish, slicing meat, and brewing coffee or tea.

Food service aides clean work areas and silverware. They also store food in designated containers and storage areas to inhibit spoilage. Equally important, food service aides have to inform supervisors when supplies are getting low or equipment is not working properly. They are often called upon to carry food supplies and utensils to and from storage and work areas. They are expected to portion and wrap the food, or place it directly on plates for service to customers. Finally, food service aides weigh or measure ingredients.

Every day, food service aides are expected to be able to listen to and understand others in meetings. It is also important that they understand what others are saying to them even in a noisy environment.

It is important for food service aides to receive and store food supplies and utensils in refrigerators and other storage areas. They are often called upon to assist cooks and kitchen staff with various tasks as needed, and furnish cooks with needed items. They also use manual or electric appliances to clean and trim foods. They are sometimes expected to package take-out foods or serve food to patrons. Somewhat less frequently, food service aides are also expected to mix ingredients for green salads, molded fruit salads and pasta salads.

Food service aides sometimes are asked to stir and strain soups and sauces. They also have to be able to distribute food to waiters and waitresses to serve to patrons and stock cupboards and refrigerators, and tend salad bars and buffet meals. And finally, they sometimes have to cut, slice or grind meat, poultry, and seafood to ready for cooking.

Like many other jobs, food service aides must be reliable and have strong self control in the face of challenging situations.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Alexandria include:

  • Institutional Cook. Prepare and cook large quantities of food for institutions, such as schools, hospitals, or cafeterias.
  • Restaurant Chef. Prepare, season, and cook soups, meats, or other foodstuffs in restaurants. May order supplies, keep records and accounts, price items on menu, or plan menu.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Food Service Aide Training

Northern Virginia Community College - Annandale, VA

Northern Virginia Community College, 4001 Wakefield Chapel Rd, Annandale, VA 22003-3796. Northern Virginia Community College is a large college located in Annandale, Virginia. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 41,870 students. Northern Virginia Community College has a one to two year program in Cooking and Related Culinary Arts which graduated five students in 2008.

Stratford University - Falls Church, VA

Stratford University, 7777 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22043-2403. Stratford University is a small university located in Falls Church, Virginia. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs and has 1,644 students. Stratford University has an associate's degree program in Cooking and Related Culinary Arts which graduated fifty-nine students in 2008.

CERTIFICATIONS

Preventing Disease Transmission: A two-hour training module for employers and employees who, while on the job, may be exposed to blood or other body fluids that could cause infection.

For more information, see the American Red Cross website.

LOCATION INFORMATION: Alexandria, Virginia

Alexandria, Virginia
Alexandria, Virginia photo by SchuminWeb

Alexandria is situated in Alexandria City County, Virginia. It has a population of over 143,885, which has grown by 12.2% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Alexandria, 124, is far greater than the national average.

The three big industries for women in Alexandria are professional, scientific, and technical services, public administration, and health care. For men, it is professional, scientific, and technical services, public administration, and construction. The average commute to work is about 30 minutes. More than 54.3% of Alexandria residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 24.8%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Alexandria is 4.6%, which is less than Virginia's average of 6.4%.

Church of Resurrection Episcopal, Agudas Achim Synagogue and Alexandria Bible Church are some of the churches located in Alexandria.

Alexandria is home to the Circle Terrace Hospital and the Kate Waller Barrett Branch as well as Marina Park and Founders Park. Shopping centers in the area include Hamlet Shopping Center, Landmark Shopping Center and Arlandria Shopping Center. Visitors to Alexandria can choose from Comfort Inn-Landmark, Best Western Old Colony Inn and Hilton Inn for temporary stays in the area.