Essential Equipment Cheat Sheet for Meals in the Classroom
If you're in school foodservice, you're probably feeling de ja vu in the new school year. Like last year, the need to be ready to quickly adapt to starts, stops, and fluctuating learning formats continues.
With in-classroom feeding becoming an increasingly common way to keep students and teachers separated into smaller groups on campus, we're learning together how to make Meals in the Classroom work, even as we cope with staffing challenges.
Here are some essential components school systems in our region and around the country have used to effectively support meals in the classroom.
HAND HYGIENE ESSENTIALS
The key to promoting good hand hygiene is making hand-washing or sanitizing convenient and easy to use—and better still, touch-free.
The Cambro Hand Sink Cart features a durable, all-weather polyethylene housing and is available in a variety of colors and neutrals. Generously sized 6" casters make it easy to transport, while the smooth surfaces make it equally easy to keep clean. Two 5-gallon fresh-water tanks supply enough water for up to 70 hand washings and two 7½-gallon waste-water tanks keep soiled water safely contained. A non-electric foot pedal operated model (cold water only) is available for spaces without electrical access.
MEAL TRANSPORT ESSENTIALSThe fewer carts to push, the fewer staff needed to push them, so the more the cart can safely accommodate, the better. And holding and transporting food at safe temperatures is always a top priority. Carts that have the ability to carry large volumes of hot meals, cold foods, and cold beverages in a single cart are ideal.
Dependent upon equipment you already have or your budget to purchase new equipment, this can be achieved with insulated, multi-compartment carts or a system of open carts and insulated carriers. Whether you’ve chosen your meal container or cart/cart system first, you’ll want to make sure they have a compatible fit. Containers or trays should have just enough room between them for easy loading and unloading.
Meal Containers or Covered Trays
Keeping pre-portioned meals covered is essential for stacking and protecting food from cross-contamination during transport to the classroom. Disposable takeout containers work well in the short-term, but they take up a lot of storage space, require frequent reordering, take a big bite out of the budget, and generate a lot of waste. If you have access to a commercial dishwasher, for more cost-effective and sustainable meal transport, consider re-usable, NSF listed options that you can wash and sanitize.
The OZZI O2GO container is a reusable, takeout style clamshell that can be used about three hundred times. The Separator Tray from Cambro is a durable and hygienic option that can be used for years into the future. Lids can be stored away when not needed.
Cambro Pro Cart Ultra
The Cambro Pro Cart Ultra, a breakfast in the classroom favorite, has two separate insulated compartments that make it easy to safely hold hot menu items in the top and cold in the bottom.
This enables holding hot meals in reusable takeout containers or prepackaged foods such as hot sandwiches, bowls, and burritos in the top compartment while holding cold beverages, fruit, yogurts, smoothies, and salads in the bottom compartment.
Each Pro Cart Ultra Tall holds up to 120 takeout style containers (9" x 9" x 2 ½"), 60 per compartment. If you don’t need hot and cold in a single cart, an all-hot model PCUHH with two heated compartments, all-cold model PCUCC with two cold compartments, non-electric model PCUPP for use with hot or cold foods, and models with electric and non-electric compartment combinations are all available to help you match the cart to your menu and serving needs.
When you’re not using the Pro Cart for serving in the classroom, adjustable and removable rails enable it to hold anything from bulk or pre-packaged foods in 1826 sheet pans, food pans, or large pizza boxes.
Cambro 1826DBC Camcart
The newly-redesigned Cambro 1826DBC Insulated Camcart was designed with molded-in rails to support food storage boxes. It features a sleek, new design, but the same rugged construction and reliable temperature retention.
With thick insulation to hold hot or cold foods for four hours or more, the 1826DBC Camcart also provides a great fit and temperature retention for up to 20 covered Separator Trays per compartment (40 trays per cart), making it an excellent option for classroom feeding.
Sleek, molded-in, vertical handles provide ergonomic and comfortable maneuvering for personnel of any height.
Flex Station and Insulated Carriers
We can’t say enough about the versatile and economical Flex Station from Cambro. We have seen it used successfully in so many ways: grab and go, in-classroom feeding, curbside, and so on.
These multi-purpose stations can also be used with shelf plates to create a mobile shelving unit to hold insulated Cambro GoBags and GoBoxes for transporting hot meals and cold milk. We call it the “96 Meal Setup.” To learn more about this easy-to-implement classroom feeding system, click here.
Even if you use reusable containers or trays, in-classroom meals will generate additional trash. Mobile trash cans make clean-up quick and convenient to help keep classrooms as tidy and sanitary as possible.
NewAge Trash Dollies accommodate various trash cans with a reinforced recessed base. A simple, 5 caster design makes the caster footprint larger without enlarging the overall unit footprint. Casters are mounted at the outside perimeter for stability.
Surface Cleaner and Sanitizer
Nu-Foamicide is a highly concentrated solution that packs 32 gallons of cleaning and disinfecting solution into a single one-gallon container. Once diluted with water according to the manufacturer’s instructions, it can be used in a bucket or basin, trigger spray bottle, or an electric sprayer. As with any chemical, it’s essential to carefully follow the instructions on the label and use only as directed to ensure safe and effective use.
We can help you fill in equipment gaps and assess options to serve efficiently in the classroom and anywhere on campus. Contact us. We’re here for you!