ACFEF Secondary Accreditation in Culinary Arts

Welcome to the ACF Family!

Let’s start your journey to become an ACFEF-accredited program.

Why is Accreditation Important?

Accreditation is the primary public symbol of legitimate higher education. Accreditation agencies regularly review and evaluate an institution and/or program providing a “stamp of approval” that standards of the highest quality are being met.

Accreditation by the ACFEF AC assures a program is meeting at least a minimum of standards for faculty, curriculum and student services and also assures future culinarians and bakers are learning and obtaining relevant industry skill competencies.

Institution Benefits

  • Increases program prestige at a national level.
  • Strong marketing tool for recruiting students.
  • ACFEF accreditation acts as a third-party endorser for federal funding and helps to obtain additional Perkins funding and federal grants.
  • Accredited program status is the most reliable verification of the quality of an educational program for the student and the public.

Student Benefits

  • Students earn industry-recognized, stackable ACF certifications upon graduation with digital badges to verify qualifications.
  • Employers recognize and favor hiring prospective employees from accredited programs because of a high level of knowledge based on the competencies being taught.
  • Register students for FREE ACF membership and take advantage of additional resources to support their culinary education, as well as regional and national networking opportunities.

Important Documents

ACFEF Accreditation Training Videos


Accreditation Fees
Type Cost
Application Fee*: $2,000 (includes travel expenses for site visit evaluators)
Annual Fee: $300

* The application fee is due no later than 60 days prior to the scheduled site visit.

Next Steps

  • Submit an online application to start the process. You will receive the self-study form and site visit date selection form within 10 business days.
  • Determine a site visit date.
  • Plan about 10–12 months to complete the self-study form. Go section by section and use the training videos as a guide. If you have any questions, please send an email to to schedule a call.
  • You will receive an invoice 90 days prior to the schedule site visit.
  • Submit the completed self-study form and payment 60 days prior to the site visit. Once received, you will receive confirmation of your site visit and evaluators.

Site Visit Tips

  • Inform advisory committee members, program graduates, guidance counselors and student employers about the accreditation process and that they may be contacted prior to or during the site visit.
  • Inform instructors and students that they will be observed during the site visit. Advise the instructors not to disrupt class when a team member enters the room.
  • On the day of the site visit, arrange for a conference room or large room for the evaluators to use as a workroom with access to a laptop or desktop computer with internet access and printer.
  • Have available: hard copy of self-study and exhibits, course syllabi for all courses, complete lesson plans, assignments and assessments to demonstrate safety/sanitation, nutrition and supervisory management competencies.
  • Provide a tour of the facility to include the culinary labs and classrooms, resource center, student services department, admissions office.
  • At the end of the day, the evaluators will provide a verbal team report summary to the program coordinator, lead instructor and often includes the principal and CTE director.

After the Site Visit

  • You will receive a written team report summary within 10 business days following the site visit.
  • Any non-compliances that are cited must be responded to in writing to the ACFEF Accreditation Department by the date specified.
  • It is important that you have NO further contact with the evaluators regarding the visit.
  • The ACFEF Accrediting Commission meets twice per year to review team reports and program responses. If your site visit took place January–May, the Commission will review your program at the July meeting. If your site visit took place September–December, the Commission will review your program in January.
  • You will receive a decision letter within 30 days following the Commission meeting.

Dedicated Support

We are excited to introduce a new member to our team specifically to support you: Chef Alessia O’Dell. Chef O’Dell is the Program Coordinator at an ACFEF Secondary Accredited program and serves as an Education Evaluator on our site visits. Chef O’Dell has been thru the accreditation process and understands the struggles and demands of becoming an ACFEF Accredited program. She is a wealth of knowledge that can help you thru the accreditation process by answering any questions you may have regarding the ACFEF Standards, Required Knowledge and Skills Competencies, ACFEF Self-Study, curriculum, books, equipment, etc. Please take advantage of this resource and contact her at any time, keeping in mind that she too is an instructor and will get back to you normally in the evening hours.

Alessia O’Dell

Contact Information

  • Dana Baldwin
    ACFEF Accreditation Administrator
    (904) 484-0235
  • Michelle Whitfield, CFC
    ACF Culinary Programs Director
    (904) 484-0254
  • Heather M. Jones, M.Ed., CFCS
    Family and Consumer Sciences and Related Clusters Specialist
    Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education
    Virginia Department of Education
    (804) 225-2826
  • John Woods, CEC, CWPC
    ACFEF Secondary Committee Chair
    The Villages High School, The Villages, Florida
  • Dr. Anthony Marsella, CEC, CCE
    ACFEF Secondary Northeast Representative
    Coventry High School, Coventry, Rhode Island

FYI: The following legislation enacted by the General Assembly pursuant to Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs requires courses be aligned with a state or national program certification and accreditation standards, if such standards exist. This affects the Culinary Arts programs. To comply with this requirement all Culinary Arts programs should begin the process for program accreditation by the American Culinary Federation Education Association (ACFEF) during the 2021–2022 school year.

HB1616 (2015) - Requires each sequence of courses constituting a career and technical education (CTE) program completion to be aligned with state or national program certification and accreditation standards, if such standards exist. Please refer to Superintendent’s Memo #182-15 for more information.