Tag Archives: school

Combi oven

Vulcan Combi Ovens: Ultimate Ease of Use

Vulcan is one of the leading commercial cooking equipment providers, having received 12 Best in Class Awards from Foodservice Equipment & Supplies (FE&S). Vulcan has top products in many cooking product lines, including charbroilers, ranges, fryers, and ovens.

One of the newest products from Vulcan is the ABC Series combi oven. Combi ovens combine convection heating and steaming to create an amazingly versatile product!

Just Set the Temperature, Time and Go

Combi

Vulcan ABC Series combi oven

This full-size combi oven is boilerless, which allows direct steam creation for optimized cooking capability and production – with minimal energy and water consumption. It also features an auto-reversing fan with electronic braking system.

The Vulcan ABC Series combi oven is easy to use with only three knobs—temperature, time, and humidity. The oven has large LED displays with a timer range that is continuous up to 24 hours. Temperature range is 80° to 450°F.

The humidity range is adjustable from 0-100%. Patent-pending humidity level control automatically adjusts after setting temperature. This humidity control ensures accuracy for repeatable results while providing efficiency in energy and water usage.

The Vulcan ABC Series combi oven has an all stainless steel cooking interior, top, and sides. It is fully insulated for optimal heat retention inside the cooking compartment. Three halogen lights are built into the door behind heat reflective inner glass. This combi is available in gas or electric. The electric model comes in 208, 240, or 480V. This combi oven is perfect for all establishments, including schools, restaurants, and health care facilities. Use it for a variety of applications – baking, steaming, roasting, rethermalizing, poaching, stewing, and more!

Central and Vulcan

Look for the new Vulcan ABC Series combis in our upcoming July catalog! If you want to check it out now, shop online, or call one of our helpful product consultants for more information.

For a limited time, you can get the Central Edge with the Vulcan ABC combis. The Central Edge includes over $700 in added value at no additional cost and includes a single hollow carbon filter system. This filter system will help to remove excess scale build-up to extend the life of your oven.

School Nutrition Standards: What You Need to Know

Now more than ever, Americans are focusing more on nutrition. Many food service establishments are offering a wider variety of healthier options – including gluten-free, dairy-free, all natural, vegan and vegetarian.

The focus on more nutritious foods certainly has caught on in schools, as well. In February 2013, a proposed rule was presented to require the USDA to establish nutrition standards for all foods and beverages sold in school. These school nutrition standards will go beyond the current Federal child nutrition programs for schools.

Starting July 1, 2014, the new standards will go into effect at schools nationwide. The law specifies that the standards apply to all foods sold at schools, any time of the day. This includes a la carte items in the cafeteria, snack bars, and vending machines.

General Standards for Food

To be allowable, a food item must:

  • Be a whole grain rich product, or
  • Have a fruit, vegetable, dairy, or protein food be the first ingredient, or
  • Be a combination food that contains at least ¼ cup fruit and/or vegetable or
  • Contain 10% of the Daily Value (DV) of a nutrient of public health concern (i.e., calcium, potassium, vitamin D, or dischool nutrition blenderetary fiber)

For more details, read the full school nutrition standards from the USDA.

Products For School Nutrition

To help keep school foods healthier, why not try some new equipment? Central carries many options to allow users to easily prepare the healthiest meals!

  • Blenders and food processors can be a great way to change things up in your cafeteria. They can be used to make soups, sauces, nut butters, and delicious healthy smoothies! You can also save money by using unused produce in one of these items to create new recipes.
  • Combi ovens are a great option for schools. They have three functions – convection, steam, and combination cooking. These ovens provide a versatile and healthy way to prepare a variety of foods. Use a combi to cook rice, vegetables, fish, and much more. Combi ovens help to reduce shrinkage, which can help to preserve your food product. If different dishes are prepared at the same time, each retain its flavor, vitamins and nutritional value.
  • Tilting skillets are another versatile piece of equipment. They have a large capacity and can be used to grill, simmer, braise, and more. The tilt design allows for convenient transfer of food to serving pans.

school nutrition combi

Whatever your school needs, Central is here to help! Call us at 1-800-215-9293 or shop online today!

Celebrating Halloween in School Cafeterias

Halloween is a favorite holiday for a lot of people, especially children. Here are some ideas to help you plan your school’s Halloween celebration, specifically in the cafeteria.

Start off your students’ day right with a pumpkin-themed breakfast. Transform regular pancakes into “Flap-Jack-O-Laterns” or create an impressive fall-inspired French toast dish.

Take your lunch from ordinary to extraordinary just by using normal ingredients and taking it up a notch. Start off by serving up some spooky main courses, such as hot dog mummies, worms on a bun or making your own healthy (but still creepy) lunchables for the students. To quench everyone’s thirst, serve up bloody punch in a cauldron with a floating hand for ice.

Make some spooktacular sides to accompany your main courses. Halloween is a great holiday to use to your advantage when you want to sneak in fruits and vegetables by making it fun. These ideas are all very easy to do and won’t increase your cost. Take fruit cups (preferably orange ones, such as mandarin oranges or peaches) and use a permanent marker to draw on the lid and make a jack-o-lantern face. You can also do the same thing to clementine or tangerine oranges. Create a squashed gut side by using spaghetti squash and tomato sauce. You can add some dairy into the meal by using mozzarella sticks and make “finger food”.

Finish off the spooky, Halloween-themed meal by giving the students a real treat. Halloween dessert ideas are widespread and easy to find. Selected ideas range from brain cupcakes, to cookies in the shape of skulls or skeletons. There’s even a recipe for “corny cookies”. The choice is up to you and the possibilities are endless!

If you want your students to take home their dessert instead of enjoying it in the cafeteria, there are many ideas for treat bags to go. Popcorn might be the easiest way for a cheap treat which can be transformed into any flavoring or color you want! A variation of Chex Mix is also another cheap way to promote a sweet treat. Instead of a typical popcorn ball, try a Rice Krispie treat pumpkin!

Makeover your cafeteria into a spooky Halloween destination by having students create decorations, making your own or using these ideas for a cheap way to create a creepy atmosphere.

http://www.marthastewart.com/270997/crepe-paper-curtains?&backto=true&backtourl=/photogallery/halloween-decorating

http://crafts.kaboose.com/easy-outdoor-halloween-decorations-2.html

Finally provide some Halloween fun for your students to cap off the day right! Easy games include Halloween Bingo, pin the bowtie on Mr. Bones or pin the spider to the spider web. Gingerbread houses aren’t only for Christmas! Have the children create their own haunted mansion by using colored frosting and graham crackers.

If you’re still stumped for Halloween ideas, don’t forget to visit our Pinterest page and look for our Halloween Treats board!

10 Products to Update Your School Foodservice This Fall

School is back in session, and the 2012-2013 academic school year definitely began differently than any other year before it.  For many schools, this particular year presented new changes and challenges as foodservices had to adapt their menus to meet the new USDA meal guidelines.

The changes went into affect on July 1, and was the first of seven phases per the USDA’s implementation timeline.  The last phase set to be complete for the 2022-2023 school year.

The new guidelines specify amounts for fruits, vegetables, grains, meat and meat alternatives and milk and included dietary specifications to be met each week.

Because of these guidelines, portion sizes are as important as ever for schools.  This is where the right utensil can make the new guidelines much easier to adapt to.  Many of the manufacturers on Central’s website have portioners, spoodles, dishers, etc., color-coded by the ounce to make scooping the appropriate serving size quick and easy.

Looking beyond the new USDA guidelines, there are several pieces of equipment and supplies that make a school foodservice run smoothly.  Using a piece of old equipment can be less energy efficient or could make a task more difficult than it needs to be.  Upgrading old equipment and supplies can definitely provide long term savings.

10 Products and Categories to Update the School Cafeteria

Don’t hesitate to contact a Central Product Consultant at 800-215-9293 with any questions about school foodservice equipment.

Cold Food Pans and Hot Food Pans

Compartment Trays

Cooking Equipment

Dishwashing and Sanitation

Food Portioners, Dishers and Spoodles

Food Preparation

Measuring Cups and Spoons

Milk Coolers

Refrigeration

Shelving

 

School’s in Session! Get Your Cafeteria Through This School Year with Central

Here at Central, we specialize in every part of the foodservice industry–especially school foodservices.  Now that school is in session, we want you to know we’re here for you and have everything you need for the 2012-2013 school year.

Online

We have an entire section of our website strictly dedicated to school products.  From there, you can browse through refrigeration, dishwashing and  cooking equipment, concession products, food prep and dining room supplies, shelving and furniture.

We’ve even compiled a small list of questions for you to answer prior to calling a Product Consultant that will help expedite the buying process on our page, Expert Solutions in School Nutrition Equipment.

Expert Help

One of the great things about Central is we always have someone on-hand to help you. Whether you’re working with a Product Consultant you’ve never worked with before, or have someone you go to every time, they are always there and ready to help.

It can be stressful trying to decide what to order because there are so many options and it can require some research.  But when you’re talking to one of Central’s Product Consultants, they’ve already done their homework so you don’t have to. They’ll know what questions to ask, which accessories you need, etc.  Just call 800-215-9293.  Phone lines are open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday (EST).

Blog

Each month on the Central Blog, we include information that specifically pertains to school foodservices.  We are sure to cover major events, but also include other news stories and equipment ideas too.  (Find all of our school blogs by going to the bottom of our blog under our “From the Past” section and choose “Schools” from the “Select Category” drop-down”.  You don’t even have to select a month unless you would like to).

Most recently, when the new USDA guidelines began on July 1, we went through and compiled all the updates for the 2012-2013 school year and created the Complete Guide on New Standards for School Meals: July 1 Changes.  In addition to the USDA changes, we also included product suggestions based on those new guidelines.

We hope everyone has a great 2012-2013 school year! We look forward to working with you.

 

A Deeper Look At New USDA Guidelines for Schools

In last Tuesday’s blog, Central looked into schools serving meals three times a day—and it really shows just how times have changed.  Thanks to a rough economy, many children eat over half to all of their meals at school during the week.

In general, “the school meal” has been a hot topic, perhaps really kicking off in 2010 when the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act was signed and First Lady Michelle Obama started the Let’s Move! campaign.

It’s been a few years since those initiatives have been put in place and with anything, there are always changes and revisions.

On January 26, the USDA released new guidelines to improve nutritional quality.

To summarize, schools will have to offer more fruit, vegetables and whole grains, provide fat-free or low-fat milk, limit calories based on age and reduce saturated fat, trans fat and sodium.  Also, every three years school lunches will be reviewed to ensure they are consistent with the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.  (Further detail of changes reviewed later on in this blog).

Schools will have to start to implement these changes on July 1, 2012—which kicks off a three year phase for all of the changes included in the document, “Nutritional Standards in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.”

At a whopping 80 pages, this document is no quick read and is a lot of information to sift through. Because there are so many revisions, the USDA isn’t leaving schools in the dark.

On March 1, the USDA released a very informative (and shorter) document, “Questions & Answers to the Final Rule, “Nutrition Standards in the School Lunch and Breakfast Programs,” which focuses on specific changes piece by piece.

It’s not surprising the very first question is, “Why is USDA setting new meal patterns and dietary specifications for school meals?”

Well, the signing of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 was a huge step in school nutrition because it was the first change in the last 15 years.  So, going back to the concept that “times have changed,” they really have.

In this chart by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, the rise in childhood obesity is clear.  From 1963 to 1970, four percent of six to 11-year-olds were overweight, and 5 percent of 12 to 19- year-olds.  There were subtle changes from 1971 through 1980, and then there was a big jump from 1988 to 1994 when the rate jumped to 11 percent for children between the ages of six and 19.

Today? Almost every one out of three children is overweight.

With many children getting many if not all of their nutritious meals at school, the USDA knew it was time for some changes to be made.

To go into further detail, the USDA lists the following as the main differences to the old rules and the new ones:

  • Food planning based on age and grade group
  • Fruits and vegetables now two separate food components
  • “Offer vs. Serve” approach, to have students choose at least a half a cup of fruits or vegetables
  • Weekly grains ranges along with a daily minimum requirement—and by the third year, all grains served must be whole grain-rich
  • Only serve unflavored or flavored fat-free milk or unflavored low-fat milk
  • Minimum and maximum calorie levels
  • Two intermediate sodium target reductions, then a final one
  • Limit trans fat and saturated fat
  • Three year administrative review cycle

Currently, the new guidelines do not affect meals for children with disabilities or children in pre-kindergarten.

The three year administrative review cycle will start during the 2013-2014 school year.

The new changes and guidelines are extensive. But documents like the “Questions & Answers on the Final Rule” help to simplify. 

Here is a list of some helpful resources from the USDA, be sure to find all of them here:

Also, don’t forget to check out our blog from Tuesday March 19 about schools serving three meals per day.

Hot Topics and Products in the School Foodservice Industry

Over the past few months, there has been a lot of news on how school cafeterias are improving and becoming healthier environments for students.  So what’s the latest?  From going local to the top foodservice products, here are five hot topics in the school foodservice industry.

Local

Many schools across the country are choosing to buy local and/or grow their own food.  This helps students learn the importance of eating healthy and teaches them a thing or two on what it can do for a community.  Based on a Feb. 2 press release, Chartwells School Dining Services said in 2011, they purchased $3.17 million in local food and worked with schools and farms all across the country.  Another benefit is the chance to introduce students to new items.  Schools in Snohomish County in Washington told HeraldNet they’ve served students “snap peas, mandarin oranges, jicima sticks, plutos and roasted Brussel sprouts.”

Healthier Vending Machines

Many schools have been providing healthier foods outside of the cafeteria in areas such as vending machines and are filling them with fruit, yogurt, vegetables, etc.  But we may soon see legislation to put healthier items in vending machines and less junk food—perhaps even putting a ban on certain items.  According to a recent New York Times article, no details have been released.

Salad Bars in Schools

One of the branches of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Campaign is Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools.  The goal of this campaign is to increase the number of salad bars in schools and help students make healthier choices.  To date, according to the Let’s Move! Salad Bars to Schools website, they’ve raised just over $3 million and have granted over 1,154 salad bars—with a goal to raise $15 million.

Meatless Monday

Earlier this week, we covered how restaurants were providing meatless options on Fridays for Lent.  Friday’s aren’t the only days some people go meatless.  There’s another campaign that’s been around for a long time that schools have jumped on board with called “Meatless Mondays.”  Wondering how to get your school involved? Check out one of their lesson plans.

Most Popular Purchased Items

Schools are one of Central’s primary customers.  So what are some of the most purchased items from schools lately? Here’s a list provided by Product Consultant, Andrew Kemp:

What are some of the hot topics your school has been following this year?

The Latest on School Nutrition: New USDA Standards

Last August the School Nutrition Association released their “The State of School Nutrition 2011,” which found many school nutritionists and foodservice workers eager to provide healthier menu items at their schools.

Image: Jeltovski/MorgueFile

Unfortunately, many schools cited monetary reasons as to why they were unable to enhance menus.  Other schools just hadn’t made the switch yet.

There’s been a huge emphasis on school nutrition and health since Michelle Obama stepped into her role as first lady.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act was signed in December 2010, the food pyramid was revamped into MyPlate and Mrs. Obama initiated the Let’s Move! campaign, which aims to create a healthier generation of children.

So while some things have just been encouraged or implemented as guides, come July 1, schools will have to start making changes based on the USDA’s new standards.

The new standards were announced on Jan. 25 and stem from the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.  Per the USDA’s website, the new rules are to:

  • Offer fruits and vegetables to students daily

    Image: margey6652/Morguefile

  • Increase offering of whole grain-rich foods
  • Provide only fat-free or low-fat milk
  • Limit calories based on age so students receive their appropriate portion size
  • Reduce amounts of saturated fat, trans fat and sodium

Schools must begin making changes at the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year, but will have three year period to implement all revisions.

While some critics say more can be done for school nutrition, many are pleased, including Sarah Wu, former anonymous blogger for her blog Fed Up with Lunch (also known as Mrs. Q, read our October interview with her here).

“I think it’s really great, actually,” she said. “I’m pretty pleased with them and it’s definitely a good step in the right direction.  There’s more we can do, but I’m totally happy.”

Image: Fed Up with Lunch

One of Wu’s biggest concerns goes back to the reason why many schools hadn’t made the move to healthier items in the first place: money.

“I think I’m concerned about how districts will make it work with the money they have,” she said.

According to the USDA, the price of school menus will increase by six cents—which is the first big increase in the last 30 years.

To compensate, the USDA will increase funding to cover the six cents.  However, Wu pointed out despite the increased funding, she mentioned it’s been said the cost for the new standards may actually be 11 cents per meal.  If that is the end result, the five cent difference could be challenging for schools.

“There are ways instead of having to absorb those losses,” Wu said, and wonders if schools could get in touch with local non-profits, foundations, have fundraisers, etc.

“There have to be ways people can engage and help.”

Image: imelenchon/MorgueFile

So cost aside, Wu and many others are pleased with these new standards.

In the USDA’s press release, they also had other improvements they would like to make such as to have nutritional standards apply to all ways students get food and beverage (i.e. vending), have “common-sense pricing standards for schools” and provide training and technical assistance to help schools comply with the new standards.

To view more information about the new guidelines, including links to sample menus and more, visit the USDA’s website.

How do you feel about the USDA’s new standards? Schools, how will this impact you directly?