Refrigeration and free school meals

Advice from Williams Refrigeration

Williams prep well is ideal for smaller kitchensThe free school meals initiative will place extra pressure on catering staff and kitchen equipment – none more so than refrigeration.

Every infant school could need extra refrigeration.  Sources have suggested that some schools may opt to offer packed lunches which will have to be stored safely, too.  Whatever the menu, schools are likely to need extra refrigerated storage.  So what are the options?

A major factor for many schools will be lack of kitchen space.  “What school caterers will need is more refrigerated storage, fitted into as small a space as possible,” says Malcolm Harling, sales and marketing director of Williams.  “Manufacturers are responding to the challenge by designing refrigeration, including coldrooms and counters, with similar capacity in a smaller footprint.  For example, our Jade Slimline counters have all the features of the standard range but with a reduced depth of just 500mm, making them ideal for compact kitchens.” 

A space-maximising option is the modular cabinet, which is more adaptable, in terms of layout, than a standard reach-in cabinet.  That’s because a modular cabinet can be designed to fit whatever space is available.  It also offers a good option if accessibility is an issue.  Low ceilings or stairs that need negotiating will limit the choice of standard cabinets, so a modular refrigeration system may work better as it can be assembled in situ.

Manufacturers are coming up with innovative ideas to help save space.  “For example, our Prep Well is a compact refrigerated ingredient well on wheels,” says Malcolm. “It’s ideal for sites that have to replenish ingredients from the coldroom and have no room for a conventional prep counter with wells.  Ingredients are stored chilled and can be wheeled-in and positioned where they are needed most, such as alongside an existing work counter or prep area.”

Another factor facing school caterers will be future-proofing their investment: “If schools have to purchase new equipment, then ideally it should be able to adapt to new challenges, changes in menus and so forth,” says Malcolm.  “If there’s room, dual compartment coldrooms offer a flexible solution.  These have both chilled and freezer storage compartments, with a movable divider so that the size of each can be adjusted for, for example, seasonal menu changes – you might have more chilled storage for fresh food in summer, and more frozen storage in winter.”

Williams Refrigeration offers a comprehensive range of school catering refrigeration including gastronorm cabinets and counters, specialist bakery equipment, coldrooms, merchandisers and blast chillers.

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