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Fresh Thinking for K-12

Serving tasty, nutritious meals to the kids in your school takes special attention to detail. Not only do you have to balance satisfying a wide range of tastes and needs, but you've got to balance your budget, too. Traulsen can help. We're a name that's been trusted for generations to deliver equipment that won't let you down. And we're always working on new ways to help you and your staff turn out consistent quality meals, every time.

Take a look at a few of the ways we're helping you meet the demands of today's K-12 foodservice environment.

Traulsen K-12 Innovations Brochure

Traulsen K-12 G-Series Hot Food and Holding Cabinets

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Traulsen K-12 Spec Series Refrigerators and Freezers

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Nutrition Trends

Carmel Clay School Lunch Program Brings Plot to Plate

The students named the garden plots. One is 'College Wood Cardinal Crops' in honor of a school mascot; the other is 'Forest Dale Garden of Life.'

The Carmel Clay school district launched its community garden in 2013. With emphasis on locally grown food, school officials are trying to teach the concept of healthy eating while meeting government nutritional standards through the foods it serves.

“The USDA’s new school nutrition guidelines require the students to take a fruit or a vegetable with their meal in order to purchase what is considered a full meal at the established price; otherwise, they get charged the à la carte price for each piece of their meal, which is more expensive,” said Anne-Marie Woerner, assistant coordinator, food and nutrition services at Carmel Clay Schools.

“Our community garden is helping us to expand those fresh choices while getting the students involved in the growing cycle.”

Emphasis is placed on teaching where food comes from and how to grow it at home. The third-graders already conduct seed studies as part of their science curriculum. The district is now taking it a step further by working with teachers to have some of the classes transplant their seed sprouts into the garden to grow food in order to demonstrate the connection between the seed and the plant.

“School gardens are said to go a long way in helping kids feel ownership and familiarity with greens,” said Woerner. “Being involved in the growing cycle can help the students make the final connection to the food itself. We have found that our kids select the raw strips of peppers, along with the carrots, celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, jicama and broccoli from our lunch lines. We are going a step further by having them being involved in growing that very food.” The school plans to also leverage the connection between the gardens and worm farms that the students create as part of their seed study units by adding this material to the gardens.

With 15,000 students to feed, the district seeks out additional sources for fresh, local produce because all of it cannot be grown in the community garden. It currently uses vendors that supply the schools with local items such as apples, tomatoes and milk products, and has a large group of local farmers to partner with. In the fall, the school’s extra tomato harvest is going to be frozen and made into spaghetti sauce. Herbs are also going to be dried or frozen.

The land for the community garden is located on one of the district’s existing properties, and two school managers oversee parcels with help from community members. The main garden is called Plot to Plate. The district allows residents to rent personal space around it for a nominal fee. It has already received a lot of support from school officials and community volunteers, but the ultimate winners are the students.

“We want to let the children know that you can grow your own delicious produce,” said Woerner. “Even if our gardening efforts only inspire a few families to follow our efforts in producing their own food, we have at least made some progress in improving the health of those families.”

Using community garden to supplement cafeteria choices, teach growing cycle and ownership of producing food, encourage healthy eating.

Food Safety

Tips for Keeping Food Safe in Schools

To maintain food safety in school cafeterias, there are six things to monitor in order to ensure food is properly stored, prepped, cooked and held:

1. Clean all prep areas: The surfaces that come into contact with food are one of the first lines of defense against food-borne illnesses. Food-preparation stations and equipment must be thoroughly cleaned to help avoid cross-contamination. Using food-prep equipment such as choppers/grinders, slicers and cutter mixers that are easy to disassemble for cleaning can help with this, especially because some of this equipment requires multiple cleanings every day. Look for tools with antimicrobial coatings to reduce the likelihood of cross-contamination.

2. Keep hot food hot, and cold food cold: Be sure to properly calibrate equipment, such as ovens and hot-food holding cabinets, to verify they are cooking and holding at the desired temperatures. Routinely calibrating cooking and holding equipment is important because undercooked product that is stored outside appropriate temperature levels can result in poor food quality as well as food-borne illnesses. Do not overload refrigerators or freezers so that air cannot circulate. Monitor equipment to make certain that proper temperatures are maintained at all times and that no food is ever in the temperature Danger Zone, which is defined by the FDA Food Code as keeping cold food below 41 degrees Fahrenheit and hot food above 140 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent bacteria growth.

3. Hot water temperatures for cleaning: Inspect dishwashers to make sure water is hot enough to effectively kill bacteria and thoroughly clean equipment that comes into contact with food. No caked-on food should be left on pans. Health regulations require that water temperatures in dish machines reach the appropriate temperature in order to properly sanitize dishes and cookware. Ensuring that the temperature reaches the appropriate level also requires a properly operating dishwashing system.

4. Practice good hygiene: Make sure that the lunchroom has places for workers to thoroughly wash hands, especially if this area is located in a gym or other room that has been converted into a lunchroom. Do not allow workers who are ill to prepare or serve food. In addition, be aware of and prevent any pests or rodents that may spread disease, contaminate food, equipment or service areas.

5. Follow the recalls: Follow @USDAFoodSafety and @FDArecalls on Twitter to get the latest recall information on any foods you might be serving.

6. When in doubt, throw it out: If you sense there is a problem with any food product, throw it out.

By following these guidelines and strong food-safety policies, you can prevent food-borne illness and ensure that your school cafeteria is serving the safest foods possible this school year

Do you have a tip for keeping the food in your cafeterias safe? Share it on our Facebook page.

Product Reliability

White Paper

Save Time and Effort: Get Kids Through the Line Faster with the New Milk Cooler

New food regulations drive the need for additional refrigeration space in school kitchens. In many cases, milk coolers are being used for primary refrigeration, and required temperatures must be maintained during storage and serving. Traulsen’s specially engineered forced-air design circulates a cool blanket of air in a consistent pattern, which enables the beverages to remain at the proper temperature, even with the door open.

With the refrigeration system located on top, the cabinet is closer to the ground—enabling even the smallest students to easily reach their milk without stretching or climbing. It also means that the unit takes in less dirt and debris, extending the life of the compressor, which is easily accessible for service and maintenance.

The sliding-front-door design protects the gasket from everyday wear during loading and serving. The cabinet is built with 100% stainless steel, and the reinforced exterior bottom has heavy-duty dunnage racks for durability. The unit comes with a three-year warranty for parts and labor, and an additional two years for the compressor. These features mean this milk cooler will be a reliable fixture in your school for many years.

Sustainability

Spotlight: Old Trail School

The education program that focuses on edibles at Old Trail School involves students in the entire food cycle—integrating growing, harvesting and preparing nutritious food into the academic curriculum through hands-on experiences. Studies show that these efforts encourage students to enjoy healthy food and incorporate it into their lifestyle.

Other sustainability efforts include:

  • Introducing a tray-less dining program that involved Old Trail School purchasing 500 plates to replace its large dining trays. The school now saves approximately 6,000 gallons of water per year and has reduced its use of cleaning agents.
  • A composting program has turned 15,839 pounds of food scrap into usable compost during the program’s first two years. Keeping nearly five tons of compostable materials out of landfills has reduced greenhouse gas emissions equal to running 1.5 passenger vehicles for a year.
  • When the EPA initially mandated the school to install a new wastewater system, Old Trail School selected one that was environmentally friendly. A Living Machine treats 5,000 gallons of wastewater per day (from toilets, sinks and dishwashers) by using a natural approach comprised of horticultural systems, bacteria and other environmentally-friendly components. The Living Machine exceeds EPA standards by using less energy than a traditional wastewater system and by having a lower life-cycle cost.
  • Purchasing a new ENERGY STAR® certified reach-in refrigerator.
  • Establishing a Farm-to-Fork program through a fully operational organic farm at the school. This garden is incorporated into the learning curriculum, and students and teachers help harvest the food, which is used in the dining room. This program teaches students healthy eating and encourages lifestyle changes. The farm currently supplies the dining room with salsa, honey and herbs that student farmers planted, grew and harvested.

Old Trail School’s sustainability initiatives were tied more to learning and environmental benefits, but for many schools the costs saved must be clear, in order to invest in these efforts. So how can school districts on tight budgets implement sustainable practices that ultimately reduce costs? Here are a few tips:

  • Add a recycle station to sort and dispose of paper, aluminum and plastic products.
  • Use plates, bowls and food containers that are compostable or 100 percent recyclable.
  • Consider adding a pulper/extractor system for cafeteria waste, to reduce reliance on garbage disposals, which use municipal water, electricity and sanitation resources.
  • Use bulk dispensers for condiments, juice and milk.
  • Look at energy usage. Evaluate whether purchasing new ENERGY STAR® certified appliances to replace older standard models would save energy and water.
  • Consider replacing standard light bulbs with LED lights to save energy.
  • Install high-efficiency water heaters.
  • Use low volatile organic compound (VOC) paints.
  • Consider sourcing local, organic produce, or serving fresh fruits and vegetables.

Sustainability doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Smaller steps can be implemented first, and these add up to larger initiatives that not only save energy, but also provide teaching opportunities as they have at Old Trail School.

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