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If you have an interest in food and its connection to health, a job as a dietary aide may be a good fit for you. Dietary aides are employed in many different institutional settings, including long-term care facilities, hospitals and schools. The role of a dietary aide combines practical cooking and food handling skills with an understanding of nutrition and diet therapy. Food safety and food handling certification is a requirement of all dietary aide positions. If you do not have direct experience working in the food services field, a Food Service Worker certificate will likely be required. All positions require proficiency in English, customer service skills and the ability to meet the physical demands of the job.
Complete a Food Service Worker program at a college approved by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care. This step is not required, but it will set you apart from the competition. You can choose to study full-time, part-time or through distance education. Full-time programs vary in length from eight weeks to 15 weeks. In the Toronto area, approved programs are available at Centennial College and Conestoga College. Look for a program with a work-placement component in order to gain practical experience. You may need to submit a police check and proof of flu shot and negative TB test during your first week of classes.
Pass the Toronto Public Health Food Handler Certification written exam. You can take a course through Toronto Public Health or at an approved training facility or you can study on your own. Exams are held at regularly scheduled times. You will receive a Food Handler Certificate, which is a requirement of all Toronto food and beverage workers. More information is available from Toronto Public Health (see Resources).
Pass the HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) certification exam. HACCP is an internationally-recognized food safety system. Courses are available on line (see Resources). A HACCP certificate is not required but will be looked upon favorably by a potential employer.
Apply for jobs with Toronto-area employers. Contact the Human Resources departments of hospitals, long-term care facilities, institutions and schools or check for job postings on line.
Jennifer Dawson is a Canadian researcher and writer who started freelancing in 2007. Specializing in environment and health topics, her work has appeared in “The Health Journal,” "Nutrition and Your Health," "Alternatives" and “Together Family.” Dawson has a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Arts in anthropology from McMaster University.