Food Preparation Worker  What They Do

Just the Facts


Food Preparation Workers Career Video



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 and Tourism cluster Restaurants and Food/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 --