Whether you’re using a dining room system or insulated tray service, there’s only one efficient shape for the correctional foodservice work area and that’s rectangular. Alcoves, hallways, and other possible hiding places must be designed out. The old style of many small rooms is dangerous as well as inefficient. For institutions with populations exceeding 2,000 inmates, however, multiple work areas in multiple rooms may be necessary.
Good design with unobstructed sight lines can keep labor costs down. And, good design with no visual obstructions generally equates to fewer security risks and better inmate behavior. This will result in lower maintenance cost and less equipment replacement. Hiding places should be eliminated. Any place where a #10 can could be hidden is a spot for brewing hootch. Favorite places are behind large rotating ovens, between free-standing equipment and walls, and in other similar spaces.
Even experienced designers can unwittingly cause security problems by creating visual barriers. While typical institutional kitchen designs include a ceiling-high wall behind cooking banks of ranges, ovens and kettles, a partial or half wall will improve visibility in the correctional kitchen. Food service management and security offices must have complete visibility of the entire kitchen, dining room, receiving and storage entry areas. Any necessary tall equipment should be located against exterior walls of the space.
Inmate break areas must be visible to security officers without requiring a walk around corners or past walls. Office space for the kitchen manager should offer full views of all inmate work areas and provide lockable space for records and civilian personal belongs.
The selection and specification of appropriate equipment is the third key to good correctional kitchen design. We’ll cover more on that in our next post.