In the last post, the concept of ‘flow’ as it relates to your kitchen design was covered. The importance of thinking through your process and reviewing how your kitchen layout will either direct your flow or impede your operation should be done during the design process so that you can create an efficient and safe design.
Options like a blind feeding system, guard rails and turnstiles direct the flow of meal serving and they also help speed people through the process. This is especially helpful when you need to feed two to three groups in an hour. An efficient system depends on the security level of inmates to be fed, the number of people who come through, the amount of time for feeding and the method of service delivery.
Each of the three variations of correctional kitchen design is based on delivery system and menus. In prisons, dining rooms are the most common, while in jails, thermal insulated trays are the most popular. In the past few years, cook-chill has also become an alternative.
The cook-chill system has proven effective in multi-site feeding where bulk rethremalization is used. The alternate delivery system for cook-chill is the rethremalization of individual trays. Each type of system directly affects costs. The least expensive is generally feeding in a dining room, while thermal trays are a close second. However, selecting a system must be based on local conditions. There is no “right” system.
The key to controlling food costs in correctional feeding is controlling both raw food product and portions. Accurate portioning onto a tray in a dining room or onto a tray in the kitchen can make the different in meeting – or busting – the budget.
There is no one right system, each has pluses and minuses. Dining rooms require more space than tray feeding in cells, while cook-chill kitchens require more refrigerated storage space. Insulated tray service requires added space for tray drying (when using a dishwasher) and tray assembly.
Whatever the system chosen, there’s only one efficient shape for the work area — rectangular. More about that in our next segment.