Correctional Kitchen Renovations

The 3 Most Important Tips for Selecting an Insulated Tray

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.

What to look for in a flight type dishmachine

Flight Type Dishmachine

Flight Type Dishmachine

By far, the most common dishmachines that we quote and sell into correctional facilities are Flight Type machines.  These machines typically are going into larger facilities, but they also make sense in corrections because of the continuous use and they work well for washing insulated trays. Our last two posts have been dishmachines focusing on what questions we ask to assess our customers needs and then more about the specifics of the machine before installation.  This post addresses our Flight Type Checklist; to help us understand the details specific to purchasing and installing a flight type machine:

1.  Job Type:  New Construction or Replacement

2.  Direction of Operation:  Right to Left or Left to Right

3.  Overall length of Dishwasher:

  • Load:  5′, 7′ or Other (consult with Factory)
  • Center:  4′ or 8′
  • Unload:  5′, 7′, 9′, 11′, or Other (consult with Factory)
  • Height:  Standard or 6″ higher than Standard
  • Conveyor:   BB with Duraflex Fingers, Special for Insulated Trays or Other (consult with Factory)
  • Doors:  Hinged; verify clearance in front of machine (standard), Other – consult with Factory (fully height or split door) and verify ceiling height
  • Drain:  Load End or Unload End
  • Voltage:  208/60/3, 240/60/3, or 480/60/3

4.  Flowing Steam Pressure:  8 – 20 lbs psi, 21 – 50 lbs psi, below 8 lbs psi (consult with factory)

5. Tank Heat:  Electric, Steam Coils, Steam Injectors

6. Booster Heater

  • No Booster
  • Electric
    • 24kw requires 140 degree incoming water
    • 39kw requires 110 degree incoming water
  • Steam
    • 180
    • 150

7.  Blower Dryer:

  • Electric
  • Steam
    • 8 – 20 lbs psi
    • 21 – 50 lbs psi

Consult the factory on the following:

  • Circuit Breakers
  • Prison Package
  • Non-foodservice Application

 

The purchase of a Flight Type dishmachine, whether it is a replacement of an existing machine or a new installation, is one of the more complex kitchen equipment decisions.   Your layout plays a critical role as does the amount of space you have available for loading and unloading, scraping, and then tray drying.  We can assist you in as you review all that’s involved in this type of decision or with any other correctional kitchen equipment decision.  We hope that you find this Flight Type Dishmachine checklist helpful.  If you’re looking to do any work in your kitchen this year or simply making budget plans for next year, be sure to give us a call.  We can assist with quotes and cut sheets as well as recommendations for various manufacturers and equipment options.  While we don’t show any flight type machines on Cook’s Correctional, we have lots of experience working with Hobart, Insinger and more.

Marketing Manager, Cook's

Candace Meneou

 

 

 

 

The Cook’s Correctional Dishmachine Installation Checklist

Hobart AM15VL Ventless "Door-Type" Dishwasher

Hobart Door-type Dishwasher AM15VL

In follow-up to our last post, I want to introduce to you our Dishmachine Installation Checklist.  This checklist is designed to help our sales representatives ask the questions needed to ensure our customers have a smooth, trouble-free Dishmachine Installation.  At Cook’s Correctional, we are continually working to improve the expertise of all our staff, and sales and customer service in particular since they are directly in communication with you, our customer.  While much simpler than the Dishmachine Checklist from our last post, the Installation Checklist is no less important.  This checklist is designed to understand the scope of work involved in the installation, to ask questions that will help uncover potential problems in the installation before they occur and to identify the resources that you’ll want to have on hand as the installation takes place.  If you are considering a purchase of a new dishmachine or in need of replacing your old machine, we suggest that you review the Dishmachine Checklist from our previous post and the checklist below.  Thinking through the process before you buy will help you to get the best product to meet your needs and to have a worry-free installation when the time comes:

Resources to have contact information for in case of questions/problems:

  • Factory:
  • Factory Representative:
  • Local Rep Group:
  • Cook’s Correctional Contact:

Scope of Work:

  • Will we remove the old equipment?
  • Are we delivering to the site or to the installers warehouse?
  • Does the machine need to be uncrated by the installers or will maintenance do it?
  • Does it need to be moved to its final destination?
  • Does it need to be set in place?
  • Does it need to be bolted down?
  • Verify the location of the utilities; water, gas, electric, steam?
  • Who will make the final connections?
  • Disposal?
  • Does the end-user have any additional information about the site/job?

Other Questions to Ask:

  • Is this a new placement or a 1 for 1 replacement?
  • Are the utilities within 3 feet of the machine?  if not they will need to be relocated for the installation.
  • What are the delivery requirements for this project?
  • Will the kitchen still be serving during this transition?  what accommodations need to be made? (for instance – disposable trays for a day)
  • Will there be a menu change for a day?
  • What clearance (security) requirements are needed for on site installation and delivery crews?
  • Is there adequate room to move the equipment? as well as remove old equipment?
  • What time can the work be done?
  • Will on staff maintenance be involved in the project?
  • What is the expected timeline?
  • Any other client expectations that need to be identified up front?

Our goal at Cook’s Correctional with your dishmachine installation, as well as any installation of Kitchen Equipment, is to be an expert for you and to guide you through the process.  We want to remove the unexpected and to make the process as painless as possible.  Replacing equipment can be very difficult for corrections because you’re serving three times a day, seven days a week without a break.    If you’re looking to do any work in your kitchen, be sure to give your sales rep a call and let us show you how we can help.

We’re happy to share this Dishmachine Installation checklist with you and hope you find it helpful.  Our next post will be specific to Flight Type dishmachines, commonly found in correctional facilities, with specific questions that you should ask prior to considering the purchase and installation of a flight type dishmachine.

Marketing Manager, Cook's

Candace Meneou

The Cook’s Correctional Dishmachine Checklist

Champion 86-PW E-Series Dishwasher with Prewash

Champion 86-PW E-Series Dishwasher

Training is a big part of our culture at Cook’s.  We recently launched our Training the Trainer program where senior sales staff is tasked with training the rest of the team the kitchen equipment used in the correctional kitchen.  Unlike traditional product training though, these sessions are about real world experiences in corrections – not how a product operates or what makes one machine different from another.

Our most recent training session, led by Ron Davenport; Midwest Territory Manager, focused on what questions to ask when your customer needs a dishmachine.  We finished with a great discussion on installations that didn’t go as planned, why it happened and how to avoid them.   Because we have the experience of installing lots of dishmachines each year – we get pretty good at knowing where the pitfalls exist and what questions to ask in order to avoid a difficult installation.

In training, Ron shared the Cook’s Correctional Dishmachine Checklist – this is a list of questions that help us to help you.  While most of our customers start a discussion with the goal of replacing what they have, it can benefit you to talk with your sales rep to be sure that what you have is the best fit for your needs.  Next time you’re considering a dishmachine purchase, take a few minutes and answer these questions.  It will help you to help your sales rep make sure that you get a machine that will be the best fit for your facility.

  1. How many inmates?
  2. What is the tray type?
  3. Job type?
    • New construction
    • Replacement (need manufacturer, model and serial number)
  4. Direction of the operation (soiled to clean)?
    • Left to right
    • Right to left
  5. Height?
    • Standard (chamber height:  18”H)
    • 6” higher than Standard (chamber clearance 24”H)
    • Verify what is the largest ware to be processed (i.e. mixing bowls, stock pots, sheet pans, etc.)
  6. Voltage
    • 208/60/3
    • 240/60/3
    • 480/60/3
    • Other
  7. Tank Heat
    • High temp / low tem
    • Electric
    • Gas (specify natural or LP)
    • Steam Coils (flowing steam pressure____)
    • Steam injectors (requires clean/potable steam)
  8. Booster Heater
    • Included with the machine
    • Purchase separately
    • Keeping existing booster heater
  9. Incoming water temperature? (water needs to be 180 degrees to sanitize)
    • 15K for 40 degree temperature rise
    • 30K for 70 degree temperature rise (recommended)
  10. Do they want a Blower Dryer
    • Electric
  11. Options / Accessories:
    • Stainless steel vent “hoods”
    • Table limit switch
    • Single point electrical connection (saves money on installation)
  12. Tables
    • New Soiled Table
    • New Clean Table
    • Re-use existing tables
  13. Scrapping:
    • Is there a scrapping station
    • Is the disposer part of the soiled table
  14. Security Package
    • Do they need this?
    • What’s included by the manufacturer
  15. Utility Overview
    • Electrical (or gas/steam)
      • Voltage
      • Amps
    • Incoming water temperature?
    • Drains, what are the various sizes
    • Duct work needed?

As you can see, there are quite a few considerations with a dishmachine that come into play.  Each question is designed to help us to ensure that you get the right machine for the job and that installation goes smoothly.   If you found this helpful check back in with our blog; Cooking in Corrections, to see our Dishmachine Installation ‘Work Sheet’ and then our Flight Type Checklist.   And if you are in the market for any piece of equipment for your correctional kitchen, give us a call and let our expertise work for you.

Marketing Manager, Cook's

Candace Meneou

Keep it Simple and Strong (part 5 in a series)

Heavy-duty Globe Whip made just for Corrections

Heavy-duty Globe Whip made by Cook’s just for Corrections

Specification and selection of appropriate equipment is the third key to good correctional kitchen design.  While some standard institutional equipment can be used in corrections, the details must not inspire exploitation.  Handles should be welded on, not screwed.  Stainless steel equipment should be specified as 14-gauge heavy-duty steel.  Coolers should have bar locks, and walk-in coolers should have an interior escape mechanism.  Knives and other implements should be stored on shadow boards in a lockable 14-gauge steel cabinet.

Storage cabinets should have strong locks with hasps, bars, or other secure devices.  In many cases it is advisable to have separate locked storage within the storage area for high contraband items like spices, coffee and sugar.  Since manufacturers have discovered the correctional market, many new products designed specifically for jails and prisons are now available.  There are many new systems on the shelf awaiting the right application.

A word to the wise, however – a thorough evaluation, with a cautious eye, should always be used when evaluating options presented to you from different manufacturers.  One quick way to analyze a system or piece of equipment is this:  When an explanation of how it works and what benefit it delivers takes longer than a minute, ask if the system is too complex or too fragile for inmate use and probable abuse.  When you build and renovate a kitchen, remember the KISS dictum:  keep it simple and strong.

Marketing Manager, Cook's

Candace Meneou

 

Keep it Simple and Strong (part 4 in a series)

BR inmage kitchenWhether 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.

Marketing Manager, Cook's

Candace Meneou

Keep it Simple and Strong (Part 3 in a Series)

Meal Serving in CorrectionsIn 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.

Marketing Manager, Cook's

Candace Meneou

 

Keep it Simple and Strong (part 2 in a series)

Cook's Correctional Kitchen Equipment and SuppliesThe KISS method of kitchen design; Keep it Simple and Strong, is the innovation of Howard Breeden, the co-founder of Cook’s Correctional.  Having spent many years in correctional kitchen management along with a formal culinary education, Howard understood the environment and the demands of the correctional kitchen and addressed these in kitchen design method.  The following is our second installment from an article that appeared in Corrections Forum in 1996, written by Howard. It’s as relevant today, as when it was written.  (click here to see the first post)

At Cook’s Correctional Kitchen Equipment and Supply, we encourage our customers to identify the number of meals needed, with specific times and time limits.  In dining room feeding where food must be held, it is critical to determine the time span of service and the time allowed for each inmate to consume the meal.

This timing issue determines the amount and size of holding equipment and cooking equipment.  Longer feeding times may permit batch cooking if the institution has enough paid labor to supervise the kitchen.

Future needs should also influence kitchen design.  Depending on an area’s inmate population growth rate, it may be cost-effective to specify equipment sized to handle twice the current inmate population because of probable growth or double-bunking.

Flow is a key element for design for all kitchens, but especially in corrections.  There must be a natural order of progression from the dock, storerooms and coolers to prep area to serving line, and for dirty trays from dining site to dishroom to storage and back into serving line.  If you don’t have good flow, you may not be able to make the operation work without losses of efficiency.

Some maximum security institutions have installed a partial wall down the front of the food line to separate inmates from servers because of the potential for intimidation.  Trays are assembled on one side of the wall and handed through a window at the end of the line.  This blind feeding system provides greater security in dining room feeding.

The serving line issue also involves control and speed.  For some inmate dining areas, guard rails can deter inmates from walking away.

For other operations, turnstiles with counters help prevent inmates going through the line more than once.  Turnstiles also provide the food director with accurate meal-served counts.

Marketing Manager, Cook's

Candace Meneou

This is the second installment in a series of posts.

Hydro Force Filtration Systems from Watts Div. of Dormont

Lime Scale in a pipeIf you were to overlay an annual rainfall map of the US with that of water hardness it would show “the dryer the area, the harder the water”.    One exception might be the Florida Peninsula.  The worst states for water hardness are Utah, Colorado and Wyoming.  Water is considered hard at 4 grains per gallon and very hard at 10 and up.  Hard water doesn’t pose any hazards to your health, however it’s a nuisance and in the kitchen it can quickly diminish the efficiency of your kitchen equipment and if left unchecked eventually lead to replacement.

In Pueblo Colorado a school district suffered from hard water for over 5 years before they tried fixing the problem.  They turned to a division of Dormont Mfg. called Watts Water Technologies.   Watts OneFlow technology was implemented into this school to reduce water hardness, which it did quickly.  At first glance the OneFlow system looks like a water softener mineral tank with no control valve.  It’s a simple inlet/outlet connection with no pumps, meters or valves to confuse the end-user.  Watts water filtration systems can be purchased on Cook’s Correctional/Watts Water Technologies.

If you would like to read the article in it’s entirety on how the Pueblo Colorado school solved the hard water problems click here on Contractor

Brian Richardson

Brian Richardson

Magazine. 

You say “just give me a price!” and I say, “not so fast…” here’s why:

I know how you feel…you call someone to get a price on an item and pray for a seconds-quick response. I mean, who really wants to spend more time on the phone with a salesperson? You have things to do, places to be, jobs to finish…so you may think a quick response from a vendor will get you where you need to go…but does it?

Tim Saner, Sales Manager Cook's

Tim Saner

For years, I have been making calls and fielding calls from correctional kitchen professionals; folks like you. During that time, I have been the one that slowed you down and asked you those annoying questions that delay the answer you seek…while, “just give me a price,” rings through your head! Then I ask, “you want to purchase a new freezer…why?” Then you think, “That’s it, this guy is in outer space!” “Because mine doesn’t work!” you exclaim.

This is where I ask for your patience…because the more I know about your correctional kitchen equipment, the easier it will be to point you in the right direction. Specification of the right item is dependent on diagnosis of a problem. Diagnosis involves lots of questions… and answers. When I

image courtesy of Commercial Kitchen Doctor LLC

image courtesy of Commercial Kitchen Doctor LLC

find out that your freezer is broke, and it doesn’t maintain temp, I need to know how it got that way. Does it have top mount refrigeration? Is there clearance above it and the ceiling for proper ventilation? Where is the unit being placed? What products are stored in it? What foodservice equipment brand is it? Would pan slides instead of shelves increase its utility? Is it next to a heat source – would a heat shield on either side make sense? Being in a correctional kitchen Is the unit or its contents ever tampered with? What is your budget for this item? Who is using it?…etc.

Don’t worry, the questions are limited. While they may seem annoying at the time – I promise that you, as well as I, will learn more about what you have in your correctional kitchen and what you need as we talk. You want to buy once and buy right. I want to get you to that point. Oh, and one more question…if you call a different supplier and they don’t ask you any questions, how did they determine what was right for you?