Year-end spend deadlines are looming and many of our customers use this as an opportunity to replace equipment that’s nearing the end of its life. If you are considering a new piece of equipment for your facility or replacing an existing piece, it’s a good idea to review the Cook’s Equipment Sizing Guide to be sure that whatever you purchase has the capacity to meet your production needs. The equipment sizing guide will help you find the right sized pieces for your population. Read from left to right for the number of inmates. If you need any assistance, our sales reps are always happy to help you.
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.
The 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.
This is the second installment in a series of posts.
The KISS method of kitchen design is the innovation of Howard Breeden, the co-founder of Cook’s Correctional. Howard had spent a lot of time in corrections – in the kitchen, not as an inmate, gaining a first-hand understanding of the environment. He also had a culinary background. Combining his education and experience and you get KISS. The following post is an excerpt of an article that appeared in Corrections Forum in 1996, written by Howard. It’s as relevant today, as when it was written.
If you can “think like a con” when planning or renovating a correctional kitchen, you can outwit even the most ingenious inmate. Since inmates see everything as a potential weapon, they look for opportunities to collect contraband and destroy or exploit the equipment and system. The planner’s job is to prevent problems as much as it is to design an efficient feeding operation.
That’s because the presence of inmates in the correctional kitchen means no aspect of design can be taken for granted:
- Ceiling height: Kitchen ceilings should be high enough so that an inmate cannot stand on a cart of counter and stash contraband in a ceiling panel. Or ceilings should be dry walled or fixed security ceiling panels, which are sealed surfaces.
- Lighting: Above average light levels create the perception in an inmate’s mind that “I’m easily seen.”
- Equipment: There should be no parts or protuberances that could be broken off and fashioned into a weapon. Easily said, but tough to make happen.
The correctional kitchen designer should focus on three key items when planning a kitchen:
- Client goals
- Continuous open space
- Simple, correctional equipment.
We use the acronym KISS: Keep it simple and strong. When you start to plan to build or renovate, develop the food service goals before retaining a designer. Your consultant / designer should understand your goals before beginning the space planning and equipment layout. Discussion of the goals and the implications for cost or space may require altering the “I want it” attitude to an “I need it” realization, resulting in a more effective and efficient objective.
This is the first in a series of posts from this article.