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Food Preparation Worker  What They Do

Just the Facts


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

This career is part of the Hospitality & Tourism cluster Restaurants, Food and Beverage Services pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Cleans and sanitizes work areas, equipment, utensils, dishes, or silverware.
  • Stores food in designated containers and storage areas to prevent spoilage.
  • Portions and wraps the food, or places it directly on plates for service to patrons.
  • Takes and records temperature of food and food storage areas, such as refrigerators and freezers.
  • Prepares a variety of foods, such as meats, vegetables, or desserts, according to customers' orders or supervisors' instructions, following approved procedures.
  • Places food trays over food warmers for immediate service, or stores them in refrigerated storage cabinets.
  • Packages take-out foods or serves food to customers.
  • Stocks cupboards and refrigerators, and tends salad bars and buffet meals.
  • Washes, peels, and cuts various foods, such as fruits and vegetables, to prepare for cooking or serving.
  • Carries food supplies, equipment, and utensils to and from storage and work areas.

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 10 lbs., sometimes up to 20 lbs. You might do a lot of walking or standing, or you might sit but use your arms and legs to control machines, equipment or tools.
  • Work in this occupation involves bending or twisting your body more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves making repetitive motions more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves standing more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves walking or running more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person
  • Using abdominal and lower back muscles repeatedly or over time without tiring

Work Hours and Travel

  • Irregular hours
  • Weekend work

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Deli Clerk (Delicatessen Clerk) --
  • Diet Aide --
  • Dietary Aide --
  • Dietary Assistant --
  • Food Preparer --
  • Food Service Aide --
  • Food Service Worker -- Duties include responsibility for instructing subordinate food service workers in dining hall techniques and methods; for maintaining high standards of cleanliness; and for assuring that patrons are served in a pleasant and courteous manner.
  • Nutrition Aide --
  • Pantry Cook --
  • Slicer --