When it’s time to select an insulated tray for your facility, there are three critical components that must be considered:
1. What is your menu like?
Tray configurations can range from 3-6 compartments depending on your menu (4 and 6 being the most popular). Begin by analyzing your menu for a month to determine the biggest serving sizes and type of food served. Next, decide if you want two items to share the same compartment or if you want each item to have its own compartment. Then, if the inmate receives a spork with every meal, decide if the spork will have its own compartment or be placed in a compartment with other food (normally, dry food, like bread). Check out the 4 compartment Gator Tray or Grizzly Tray for ideas of this style of tray. If a dedicated flatware compartment is important, check out the 6 compartment Gorilla Tray or Marathon Tray.
2. How do you serve your inmates?
Do the inmates eat in the dining room or in their pods? For pods, insulated trays or heated carts are necessary to maintain food at the proper temperature. If you are re-therming in the tray, you will need trays that tolerate a wide temperature range, like the Cook’s Flex Trays. Its temperature range exceeds 450 degrees F. Check out the video below to see them in action. If you are serving in a dining room, we recommend a standard, co-polymer 6 compartment tray.
3. How do you transport your meals?
Do you prefer to transport in an open cart or enclosed cart? Are your required to deliver the meal with hot food above 140 degrees or does the food need to be above 140 when it leaves the kitchen? Two shelf or flatbed carts provide economical transport of insulated trays. Trays transported using this method generally hold temperature for 30 minutes. Enclosed carts will hold temperature slightly longer, especially when transporting outside. Cook’s has a wide range of two shelf carts, flat bed carts and enclosed carts.
Cook’s has an extremely deep assortment of insulated trays to meet all of your correctional serving needs, for more information visit the Tray Buying Guide or check out the best meal trays for Correctionals.