School IPM Best Practices

Indoor Best Practices for Food Service

Cafeterias, Kitchens, and Storage Areas

Integrated pest management combines inspections, pest knowledge, control tactics, monitoring, recordkeeping, and communication to minimize environmental, health, and economic risks. Key practices like sanitation reduce pest habitat inside buildings, while exclusion keeps them out. Successful IPM depends on a partnership between the facility department, kitchen staff, food service administration, and any contracted pest control vendor.

In addition, due to the fact many contracted services occur outside the regular school day, someone representing the district may need to serve as a communication liaison between contracted pest control vendors, and school personnel, and custodial vendors when applicable.

Overview: Food service areas are pest “hot spots” because they provide:

  1. Access: Through floor drains and cracks; through any gap in doorways, windows, or around utilities and pipe chases; arrive on food as insect eggs, nymphs or adults; and in packaging
  2. Harborage: Under and on equipment that is not moved or used often; in clutter; in hollow table legs; under table tops; in cardboard packaging
  3. Food: The food itself, plus spills and crumbs, grease and other residue
  4. Water: Condensation on windows, air conditioner and refrigeration drip pans; plumbing and roof leaks; sink, steamer or kettle fixtures; steam tables; dishwashers; accumulation after floor washing, around floor and sink drains; in tile grout and broken tiles


  • Communication and understanding of responsibilities is understood by all parties
  • Staff post their sightings in Pest Sighting Log; Pest Control Vendor Technicians review and follows up during service visit
  • Pest Control Technician provides service visit report that lists findings and services provided, including recommendations for staff follow-up
  • Frequent monitoring of snap traps or glue boards according to district policy and contracted vendor services
  • Record-keeping on clipboard, in the IPM Binder, or software is kept up-to-date and available


  • Keep kitchen doors shut to the outside; avoid propping them open for ventilation
  • Organize food storage for efficient inspection:
    • Store food 6–12" above floor and away from wall for ease of cleaning and inspection; set perpendicular to walls when possible
    • Use movable shelves, carts or plastic pallets; stainless steel pallets are preferred
  • Inspect food
    • Inspect incoming food and packaging for pests
    • Dispose of pest-contaminated food
    • Repackage or repair compromised food packaging
  • Make repairs
    • Seal gaps and penetrations where utility lines (water pipes, electricity) enter the building and run between rooms; always use escutcheon plates on piping
    • Seal all cracks and gaps in floors, foundations, windows, door jambs, and vents
    • Use stainless steel metal meshing rather than steel wool; secure with proper sealant instead of caulk
    • Use sealants that match the damaged area: choose siliconized acrylic latex sealants (foam is not sufficient for rodents); use concrete where applicable
    • Keep window screens in good repair (no holes or tears) and replace missing screens (particularly near the dumpster and areas that attract stinging insects, e.g. fruit trees)
  • Manage plantings
    • High tree and shrub branches should be six or more feet from roof
    • Shrubs should be minimally two feet from building to provide space to walk; this minimizes coverage for rodents and allows for structural inspection
    • Prune shrubs to keep plant material off the ground to reduce harborage
    • Clean-up dropped fruit from fruiting trees near building
  • Manage trash
    • Keep outdoor garbage receptacles 50 feet or more from the building (or as far as possible)
    • Keep trash receptacles closed
    • Keep the immediate ground and the outside of containers free of trash residue


  • Manage food
    • Employ “FiFo”—first in, first out for food items
    • Upon receipt, thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables; store in a cooler
    • Store all food in pest-resistant packaging
    • Remove food from cardboard boxes; recycle packaging
  • Manage moisture
    • Identify and eliminate water sources such as leaking pipes and plumbing fixtures, clogged drains, and related water damaged materials
    • Repair missing tile grout
    • Insulate pipes that accumulate condensation (sweat)
    • Increase ventilation in damp areas
    • Ensure floor and all surfaces, including non-slip mats, are dry at the end of the day
    • Ensure all water tables are drained and dried daily
    • Ensure all mop buckets are drained, and mops and cloths hung to dry
  • Housekeeping
    • Sweep and wash floors as often as possible
    • Keep floor drains clean and free of debris
    • Keep sinks, garbage cans, workspace counters, tray return areas, and equipment (legs and wheels, on top and underneath, back corners) free of grease, sugar and food debris
    • Reduce clutter, cardboard, and paper that provides cover for pests
    • Monitor infrequently used equipment for possible harborage
    • Keep shelves organized, and clean of crumbs and spillage
    • Do not stack cardboard boxes on shelves
  • Clean up spilled food
    • Keep counters and cook tops clean and dry
    • Do not leave dishes in sink overnight
  • Trash
    • Empty garbage every day and dispose outside the building
    • Line trash cans; double-lining is preferable
    • Use trash cans with lids and keep lids closed
    • Wash trash cans
    • Rinse recyclables and wash recycling container

Common Pests

Resources (PDFs)