When can microwaves be used by students?

Microwave Oven Use

When can microwaves be used by students?

Classroom microwaves:  Personal or school-provided microwaves can be used by the teachers to heat up their personal food and do not need to be industrial grade.

Microwaves in the general cafeteria:  Microwaves in the cafeterias will be used by the general school population and must be industrial grade.

Microwaves in the Home Economics (CTE) Classroom:  Microwaves can be used here as part of a life skills goal for reheating food as long as trained personnel are closely monitoring the temperature regulations. 

Can students microwave food if it is part of a life skills goal?

If food handling and preparation are part of a student's individualized education program (IEP) then the student can use the microwave as part of a life skills goal.  Environmental health inspects and licenses food preparation and service areas for instructional purposes separately. The principal of your school should know these rules or how to contact environmental health for consultation. 

Can teachers microwave popcorn for a snack? 

The teacher needs to ensure there is safe and hygienic food handling and distribution. For example, students do not reach in with bare hands and serve themselves.   
Can staff microwave any student food?

It is not recommended for staff to warm a student's food due to temperature and safety issues.  If a parent sends food from home that needs to be eaten warm, parents are strongly encouraged to heat the food at home and send the food in a thermal container.  

Can foods brought from home be re‐heated in a microwave oven?

Not all schools have microwave ovens available for students. It is recommended that foods prepared at
home be transported in insulated containers so that they are ready to eat with no further heating or
preparation needed. Child Nutrition staff are not able to re‐heat foods brought from home in the
cafeteria kitchen. 


  • Title 15A, Subchapter 18A – N.C. Administrative Code, N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources www.deh.enr.state.nc.us/ehs/rules.htm
  • Commercial Kitchen Standards, Child Nutrition Services, N.C. Department of Public Instruction http://dpi.state.nc.us/childnutrition/publications/foodsafety/commercial