By Tracey Rector
School is back in session! This means school foodservices are back in full swing from the cafeteria to the football field.
With it being a new school year, now is the time to update and upgrade your current equipment and supplies to ensure a successful year.
Here are a few ideas to help you get going:
Styrofoam trays cause cafeterias to throw away money on a monthly basis, plus have several negative effects to the environment, too. There many types of non-disposable trays out there, and they come in a variety of types from ABS and polypropylene to melamine and co-polymer.
Many times when one thinks of a school foodservice, it’s the cafeteria. But there’s much more. Concession stands can be huge money makers for schools, whether it’s for the actual school or certain groups or teams.
Having the proper equipment (that works) can make all the difference in a concession stand’s success. Inspect your current inventory to find what doesn’t work or consider an expansion of your inventory with any of the following items: popcorn poppers, nacho chip warmers, pretzel merchandisers, charbroilers, pizza ovens, hot dog roller grills, steamers, warmers, merchandisers, vending carts, snow cone equipment, cotton candy machines and beverage merchandisers.
With there being so many different types of dishwashers out there, have you stopped to think about the one at your school foodservice? Do you have the right size? Do you use chemicals but wonder if a high temperature sanitizing may be better?
So many factors go into purchasing a dishwasher. You can also look into ENERGY STAR rated dishwashers to save on your water costs, as well.
Provide students a variety of healthy options with a food bar. Food bars enable you to provide a wide variety of food items to students so they can pick and choose the healthy items they are interested in.
They are made in standard heights and youth heights so you can choose the best fit for your school. You can also find them in hot or cold versions.
Each day there is much preparation for school breakfast and lunch. Keep items hot and fresh with a holding cabinet. Many versions are energy-efficient and have quick pre-heating and recovery.
Portioners and More
Portion control is key to staying within your budget. Today, foodservice supply manufacturers have made it easier than ever for schools to scoop exact portion sizes with portioners that have color coded handles for specific ounce amounts. Dishers and spoodles are color-coded, as well.
Is your foodservice area organized? If not, employees could be spending valuable time searching for items that could have been much easier to find had they been stored properly.
When it comes to shelving, there are a variety of sizes to best fit your area and are available in a variety of constructions. The variety in constructions allows your foodservice to pick what is better, such as for a dry storage area or a moist one.
PLUS! Go Green
Here are ways you can make your school cafeteria more eco-friendly!
Leaving out a pile of napkins invites students to grab more than they need. By purchasing a napkin dispenser, you will cut down on the amount of napkins your students will take—and they come in a variety of types, enabling you to choose one that best fits your cafeteria.
Instead of printing out menus, whether it’s weekly or monthly, think about using a dry erase or chalkboard instead. This will cut down on the paper you use and can make for a fun project at the beginning of everyday! Also, parents appreciate having menus online, which is a great way to post a monthly view.
Using disposable flatware can be very wasteful. Consider using flatware, perhaps the 18/0 medium weight.
Takeout Food Containers
While these might be best for untraditional cafeteria settings, like a university food court, there are takeout containers available that are very eco-friendly and have a completely reusable design. This reduces the waste produced and re-stocking costs from using disposable takeout containers.
This was an obvious no-brainer to include! But if you haven’t considered recycling at your school, it’s time to start. By getting the students to become involved with recycling at school, you might also get them to encourage parents to recycle at home, as well.
While it’s much easier to grab a paper towel to wipe up a mess, try using a towel instead. They come in a variety of shapes, materials and sizes.
Piggy-backing off purchasing towels for messes, consider installing a hand dryer next to your sinks for employees and students to use after washing their hands, dishes, etc. to cut down on the use of paper towels. There are many types of hand dryers, and purchasing one will save energy and HVAC expenses.
When purchasing equipment, keep an eye out for Energy Star Rated items. These items use less energy and save money.
Tracey Rector is a content specialist for Central Restaurant Products, a food service equipment and supply distributor in Indianapolis, www.centralrestaurant.com.