The future of a country depends on its youth, and in this sense, making sure all the children of America are well-fed is a patriot act. School cafeterias and dining halls are responsible for the care and safety of many students and school staff members. School kitchen equipment is thus manufactured to serve large capacities and ensure all is safe and sound in a school cafeteria and dining halls.
When building or updating the school cafeteria kitchen, certain aspects need to be paid attention to, such as the longevity and dependability of the machinery or the safety measurements regarding allergens and bacteria. Here, we’ll provide you with a short and straightforward guide on what to look for in school kitchen equipment and how to enhance your kitchen to meet the demanding nature of a school environment.
4 Categories And List Of Items You Should Own
Equipping a school cafeteria and kitchen involves much more than simply stocking up on pots, pans, and utensils. A well-designed kitchen needs to be a blend of efficiency, safety, and adaptability to meet the varying dietary needs and numbers of its student population. It’s not just about having the ‘right’ things; it’s also about having the ‘right kinds’ of things, designed to work in harmony to create a streamlined and effective kitchen operation.
Disposable items for convenience, commercial storage equipment, trays and deliveries, and the main kitchen equipment that are specialized machinery for large-scale meal preparation, each category serves a unique role in the day-to-day functioning of a school cafeteria. Below, we’ve broken down the types of kitchen equipment you should consider into four main categories. Each will start with a bullet-point list for quick reference, followed by a detailed discussion on why these items are indispensable for a school setting.
1. Disposables For School Kitchens
Disposable school kitchen equipment is an essential part of the fast-paced school cafeterias. You need to invest in these materials and make sure you don’t run out of stocks in the middle of the day, so make thorough calculations and store enough of the following items.
- Napkins, which students should always have easy access to, are indispensable in school cafeterias. You can assign someone to check napkin boxes and replace them when necessary to ensure these small hygiene units are always accessible to your students.
- Straws are essential for kindergartens and such to avoid a mess. You can give out straws with the beverages you offer and ease the job of cleaning afterward.
- Some institutions prefer disposable trays and knives to lighten the load of dishwashing and enhance safety. Especially for small children, using foam or plastic will prove less dangerous and prevent minor accidents that might injure the kids.
2. Commercial Kitchen Equipment For Schools
While you might bring the food from a central kitchen outside, cooking it in your own cafeteria kitchen is the traditional path to take. To run your kitchen as smoothly as possible, you should own every single one of these school kitchen equipment and maybe, even more, depending on your cafeteria’s specific conditions.
- Commercial ice machines are an essential addition to any school kitchen. From keeping drinks cold to aiding in food prep, these machines are versatile assets that can greatly benefit any school’s food service operation. It is practically impossible to imagine a commercial kitchen without commercial ice machines since students like ice-cold beverages throughout the day. You may also need ice to use for minor injuries that inevitably occur in an environment with lots of active children. (You may want to check out our article on commercial ice machines to figure out what kind of machine is the best for you. )
- School milk coolers are designed to protect the milk that will be served to the children, and considering how vital milk can be for a kid’s growth, you can safely assume that this investment will prove very beneficial in the long run.
- Commercial dishwashers are a need you can’t give up on in large-capacity kitchens, and thus they are critical among school kitchen equipment. By investing in a commercial dishwasher, you will save a lot of time and energy on your staff’s part and maintain a good hygiene standard. (You can also check our blog post for detailed information on commercial dishwashing machines.)
- Cook and hold ovens or aka cook and hold cabinets, are some of the most helpful school kitchen equipment that ensure the meals are cooked, store them at a suitable temperature, and protect the taste and nutrients as much as possible. In the fast-paced and possibly not very spacious environments of school cafeteria kitchens, you will be getting your money’s worth out of these machines.
- Food holding and warming equipment is the classic choice of a service station by commercial kitchens such as school cafeterias. This commercial equipment helps you distribute the food rather quickly and make sure the food is hot throughout mealtime. No one would want to eat cold food just because they ended up at the end of the line, and food holding and warming equipment ensures every student has access to a delicious warm meal.
3. Commercial Storage Equipment for School Kitchens
At the end of the day, all school kitchen equipment relies on good storage to protect what they have produced. Whether it is the storage of the ingredients or the cooked food till mealtime, you need dependable commercial kitchen equipment to keep your food from spoilage. The right commercial storage equipment ensures there are no health hazards and that the food’s appearance and taste are intact until it is time to serve it to the students.
- Walk-in freezers and coolers are both must-have school cafeteria equipment. While the budget might present a problem, it is vital to invest in suitable freezers and coolers to be safe in the long run. A walk-in cooler freezer combo may be a good solution for your both budget and needs. (You should check out our complete guide for walk-in refrigerations to find out what kind of walk-in cooler and freezer can meet your demands and give you your money’s worth. )
- Merchandising refrigeration units are perfect for storing cool beverages until mealtime, and these school kitchen equipment ease the staff’s job by taking one item off their to-do list.
- Condiment carts are the easiest solution to store your condiments for long periods of time and save you the trouble of dealing with them every day. You can prepare a little condiment station in your cafeteria and let the students pick what they like.
- Blast chillers are of great help in protecting the food you have prepared in advance of mealtime. With the use of these school kitchen equipment, you can quickly drop the temperature of your food and store it safe from spoilage till it is time for students to get their share. (If you want to know more about blast chillers‘ functions and benefits, you can check out our article about these flash coolers and freezers.)
4. Trays And Silverware
There are many options regarding trays and silverware in school kitchen equipment markets. You have the opportunity to tailor these items to suit your establishment. Plus, the diverse options offer you the chance to update your serving material if you run into an issue with your initial choice.
- School cafeterias are famous for their sectioned trays. Even though many schools use plates, sectioned trays are still quite popular and have many advantages. They are very efficient thanks to their standard sizes. Staff can save a lot of time through the ease of portioning these trays offer.
- Disposable foam serving materials have grown quite popular during the pandemic. If you can safely get rid of the used materials later on, these school kitchen equipment can prove safer and more practical than the traditional options. Yet, while providing services to children, it is necessary to be aware of the importance of environmentally friendly business. So, it’s better to go with a sustainable option if you have the opportunity.
5 Considerations Before Shopping for School Kitchen Equipment
Shopping for school kitchen equipment can prove tricky, mainly since most schools have limited budgets. This is why you must pay attention to the details and get the most out of your efforts.
- The durability of commercial kitchen equipment should be high on your list. Most schools don’t have enough budget for repairs if something goes wrong or they cannot afford new equipment. So, you should be confident that the school kitchen equipment you are investing in is dependable and has long life spans. It’d be wise to choose brands that have stood the test of time and have good customer service.
- Health codes are pretty important and demand special attention in a school environment. Everything must be up to the regulation of your state or federal laws, not for an inspection but to ensure the safety of all those who eat in the cafeteria.
- Diet requirements dictate the levels of nutrients one student must take in their daily portion of foods. To meet these requirements, you must plan the commercial kitchen equipment in advance and in detail.
- Ease of operation is an essential feature to consider when shopping for school cafeteria equipment. Commercial equipment needs to be easy to adapt to, for your staff must get used to the fast-paced nature of a school cafeteria kitchen and get the hang of the job rather quickly. A school cafeteria is one place you cannot afford to lose time at.
- Allergen-free school kitchen supplies should be your top concern. Most schools are supposed to update their dining hall equipment to switch to allergen-free items and have allergen-free areas and objects in the kitchen. What we mean by allergen-free is having additional supplies of school kitchen equipment to use without bringing them in contact with the top allergens such as soy and eggs. This way, you can safely offer options to your students and ensure there is no cross-contact due to the use of the same materials in the cooking process.
With these key considerations in mind, your next step is to identify the specific pieces of kitchen equipment that will meet the needs of your school cafeteria. This is not just about having the right tools; it’s about ensuring these tools work cohesively to create a safe, efficient, and welcoming environment.
Now that you have a solid understanding of the key considerations to consider before purchasing school kitchen equipment, the next logical step is to explore the financial aspects. After all, even the most well-planned kitchen is only as feasible as your budget allows. Whether you have limited resources or a more flexible budget, it’s crucial to understand the available funding options that can help bring your ideal school kitchen to life. This ensures that you not only select the the right equipment but also that you’re financially prepared for this significant investment.
Funding for School Kitchen Equipment
While most schools meet the needs of students in terms of nutrients and quality of food, some schools may struggle to keep up with the changes with the healthy diet approaches from the lawmakers and modernizations in codes. Affording new school kitchen equipment is a big ask for many schools across the country, but schools have grants and sponsorship opportunities to innovate and buy new machines for their kitchens.
After assessing your kitchen based on the codes of your local government, you can reach out to your representatives to ask for help or reach out to private companies that offer to fund schools that wish to update their school kitchen equipment. Another option is to ask for donations. You can either get in touch with different institutions or hold fundraising at your school—anything for the kids. It may also be another wise choice to benefit commercial kitchen equipment stores’ available financing solutions.
Running a school kitchen is no walk in the park, and it is quite responsibility. School kitchen equipment is specifically designed to meet the nuances of this particular setting, yet it is your job to make sure everything runs smoothly. Whether it is your first time creating a cafeteria kitchen or you’re just browsing to develop ways to update your kitchen to meet the increasing demands, you have a great task set in front of you.
As daunting as this task may sound, school kitchen equipment will surely ease your job significantly, and after smoothing a few details, you will have a perfectly functioning school kitchen at your disposal. Make sure to plan out your budget carefully and look for funds if necessary; we cannot risk the health of our children!