Contemplating Cleanliness, Continued

In “Contemplating Cleanliness” in the April 2016 issue of School Nutrition, Cecily Walters summarizes reflections from school nutrition professionals about their cleaning equipment, purchasing influencers and advice for others who are considering purchasing this type of equipment. The operators interviewed for the article provided more details and advice than we could fit in the print magazine, so some of this additional great content appears here online.

West Hartford (Conn.) Public Schools All of the kitchens in the West Hartford school nutrition operation feature high temperature dishmachines for cleaning dishware, utensils, pots and pans, as well as three-compartment sinks for pre-washing. The sinks also are used for washing, rinsing and sanitizing if a kitchen’s dishmachine breaks down. Foodservice Director Trish Molloy, RD, CD-N, prefers high temperature dishmachines to low temperature ones because “we want to minimize the amount of chemicals going into the wastewater.”

She also is definitive about other factors that serve as purchasing influencers when evaluating cleaning equipment. “We purchase dishmachines that are energy efficient and have the capacity for the volume of equipment to be washed at the school,” Molloy says. Compartment sinks should be high-grade stainless steel for durability and feature compartments of adequate sizes to fit large stock pots and sheet pans.

Molloy identifies a dishmachine used in one of her elementary school’s kitchens as a particular favorite among staff. “It has a tall enough wash tank to accommodate a rack with six upright full-size sheet pans in one cycle. Other machines in the district fit one sheet pan or don't fit them at all. This machine also has a self-contained ventilation system; the heat and steam produced during use is recirculated back into the machine instead of going outside through a vent. This heat is used to reheat water used during cleaning cycles, thus saving a lot of energy,” she describes.

The size of the operation’s kitchens dictates the type of dishmachine used in each. Smaller kitchens typically have pull-through dishmachines, while larger kitchens generally have conveyor belt automated dishmachines. “The pull-through machines are smaller to fit the space available and less expensive than the conveyor machines. Conveyor machines can handle more racks per minute, so they are preferable in larger schools,” Molloy cites.

Her school nutrition team also relies on smallwares, such as dish rags, bleach buckets and cleaning chemicals, for cleaning purposes. Molloy says she would love to see cleaning equipment on the market that incorporates a pot scrubbing feature so that staff wouldn’t have to do as much pre-washing and scrubbing of baked-on food. When it comes to offering advice to other school nutrition professionals on purchasing cleaning equipment, “Make sure a company representative or broker visits your school and knows your volume and utility requirements, i.e., electrical specifications meet what is available for power,” she advises.

 

District Snapshot

West Hartford Public Schools

West Hartford, Conn.

Website: www.whps.org

Director: Trish Molloy, RD, CD-N

District enrollment: ~9,800

Numberof schools: 16

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