What's IT Like to Work on a Food Service Crew?

Food services crew members work in hospitals, schools, business parks and strip malls. As opposed to full-service restaurants, these places employ a food service crew that often do a little bit of everything, such as take orders, run the register and prepare food. Read on to learn more about this line of work. Schools offering Restaurant & Catering Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Food Service Crew Defined

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, of the more than 400,000 restaurants across the U.S. in 2015, approximately 37% or 149,226 offered 'limited-service,' such as snack bars, cafeterias and fast-food restaurants (www.census.gov). These eating establishments, in which diners typically pay before eating, employ food service crew members. The options are many and varied - you may work at a hamburger joint, a donut shop, a chop suey place, an all-you-can-eat buffet, a taco shop, a cupcake parlor or a school cafeteria.

Important Facts About Food Service Crews

Required Education No formal education standard
On-the-Job Training Typically lasting a few weeks
Key Skills Customer focused, clear communication, physical endurance, close listening, situational awareness
Similar Occupations Food preparation workers; bartenders; cashiers; cooks; retail sales workers; waiters and waitresses

Typical Job Duties

Regardless of the type of eating establishment, members of a food service crew share similar duties, preparing and serving food with particular regard for customer service. Some food service crew positions involve transport of food, such as to hospital patients. At some places, you might stay in one workstation, performing a few job duties, such as running the register and cleaning tables, or you may work for an employer who rotates job duties regularly.

In addition to transportation, preparation and the service of food, typical food service crew duties include sanitation. Compliance with sanitation standards is a priority so that eating places meet health inspection requirements. Common job duties may include:

  • Using food preparation equipment and appliances
  • Following recipes
  • Following sanitation standards
  • Setting up and serving hot and cold foods
  • Collecting customer payment
  • Greeting customers
  • Assembling customer food orders
  • Stocking disposable items

Work Atmosphere

Working on a food service crew is often hectic and fast-paced, especially if you work at a popular or chain restaurant. Even when not attending to customers, you still may be rushing to prepare for the day's food service. You can expect to be almost constantly on your feet during your work shift. To avoid accidents and injuries in crowded dining areas and busy kitchens, you need to maintain a level head. Injuries may also occur from heavy lifting in a hurried atmosphere.

Work hours vary depending on the shifts you're assigned. You might be working early mornings or late nights to take care of prep work or clean-up duties. Evenings, weekends and holidays are common shifts since food service crews are expected to work during normal dining times.

Job Outlook and Salary Expectations

The BLS predicted that employment overall in this occupation would grow by about 14% from 2016-2026. However, jobs for non-restaurant servers, such as in assisted living facilities or hospital settings, were predicted by the BLS to increase by about 10% during that period. The median annual wage was $23,070 for food and beverage workers in May 2018, the BLS reported.

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