With 4.9 billion school lunches served each year, the school cafeteria industry handles more meals than the biggest restaurant chains in the United States. When selecting school cafeteria equipment, it’s important to choose wisely. Here are some points to ponder before you select commercial kitchen equipment for your school’s cafeteria.
Why the Right Equipment Is Important
Good nutrition is essential to students’ ability to perform well in the classroom. While the kind of food provided in a school cafeteria is a crucial consideration, the kind of equipment that aids in the preparation and storage of lunches is just as important. Nutritionists know that the way in which a meal is made is directly related to the healthfulness of the meal. Another consideration is that certain pieces of school cafeteria kitchen equipment are tough to clean, and this can create health problems for students who consume food produced by unsanitary equipment.
Selecting the Right Equipment
Before you purchase cafeteria equipment, either for a new facility or to replace current models, consider your school’s budget. Commercial kitchen equipment designed to produce meals for a large number of people can be costly, and you will have to weigh the need for each piece against the limits of your budget.
Many schools currently use traditional kitchen equipment for food preparation, like oven ranges and stovetops, but others have chosen more modern pieces, like convection ovens. In selecting equipment, you’ll need to consider not only each piece’s efficiency but also its effect on nutrition and the ease or difficulty of cleaning it properly.
Choosing Dishwashers and Storage Equipment
The first items most people consider when they think of a school cafeteria kitchen are ovens and stoves. But the cafeteria equipment for food storage and washing dishes is also crucial. Freezers and refrigerators keep food fresh, a must for safety. These pieces of equipment should be resistant to mildew and mold, which can cause health problems for students. Dishwashers need to be able to handle an enormous number of plates, cups, pots, pans, and utensils, or else they will also cause health problems.
Choosing the Right Ovens
More modern oven models have given school nutritionists the chance to broaden nutritional choices. If an oven has newer functions and features, it can allow nutritionists to come up with a wider range of menu options. Broiling, baking, and grilling generally produce healthier foods than frying, and they allow for a given type of food to be made in different ways. Students appreciate the expanded options that allow them to make healthier choices.
The Most Valuable Features of Cafeteria and Buffet Equipment
It may be tempting to opt for inexpensive cafeteria line equipment, but be aware that these pieces may be poorly constructed and therefore may not last long, making them a bad investment. Such cafeteria and buffet equipment are usually made of lower quality stainless steel, and this material can quickly become deformed. They also contain wells that are heated only from the bottom, thereby raising labor and energy costs. Furthermore, these units may lack the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) or Underwriters Laboratories (UL) certification, which will prompt the local food department to deny approval of the units for use in food handling. If your equipment lacks the necessary features, your operating costs will be significantly higher, and the equipment will have a short life span.
Look for a Supply Company that Offers a Wide Range of Equipment
In addition to standard cafeteria equipment like ovens, stoves, and dishwashers, you should consider newer options, such as griddles, grills, products designed for portion control, induction ranges, and steam table equipment. The more equipment you can afford, the more choices you can offer students and staff as they move through the cafeteria lines
Set Up Serving Stations for Different Foods
This eliminates the usual straight line students have to wait in and enables them to go straight to the kinds of food they want. This is a faster and more enjoyable way of filling plates.
Parents agree that their children’s nutrition is a top concern and the ways in which food is prepared and served matters. If you’re purchasing cafeteria equipment for your school, call our team to learn more about what we offer.