Power outages in school cafeterias are without a doubt hectic. Without working stoves and ovens, the ability to feed students what they are expecting, and what was being expected to be made becomes a problem. There are solutions to these issues by utilizing both proactive and reactive methods.
Following the rules of the previous guide is important: toss what needs to be thrown away, and if there was food being cooked and it didn’t get completely cooked, get rid of it. It’s a hard task to do, but the safety of the students is more important than the budget. So, always remember to:
- Pay attention to the time. Timing is EVERYTHING.
- Cease all cooking and keep warm food out of refrigerators and freezers to avoid rapid temperature increases
- After four hours, food must be discarded if falling between 41 and 140 degrees F in or out of the refrigerators
- When in doubt, throw it out
- Fruits and vegetables can be left out longer than meat
If the power outage continues to last for more than a day and there are orders coming in that day from vendors, if at all possible, be sure to cancel or reschedule those orders. Bringing in more food that could be compromised during the outage will just cause more problems.
If school is still being held in session during the power outage, there are other issues to take into consideration. These issues include feeding students and food preparation.
The lunch rush is a stressful time of the day for cafeteria workers: making sure every student is fed is a vital aspect of the job and important to the school. Without power to make the food, this becomes a major problem.
To avoid this, make use of the ingredients that don’t require cooking to make: use any cold cuts and vegetables to make sandwiches and make use of any fresh fruit or fruit cups on hand. This way, food that would be otherwise be sitting in the fridge and possibly having to be thrown away due to the length of the outage is being eaten.
Sherman High School’s cafeteria team didn’t let a power outage get in the way of feeding their students and making use of the food they had on hand that would otherwise need to be tossed eventually. Only part of the school was affected by the power outage, but the cafeteria suffered without any power, so there were still mouths to feed without power to do so. For breakfast, they made use of the cereal, fruit, and milk that was on hand. For lunch, they were luckily able to grill hamburgers on a grill. This way, they were able to use meat that had the possibility of eventually having to be tossed from the lack of power.
Image 1 – Cafeteria workers of Sherman High School making use of their resources during a power outage
Disaster is avoidable during power outages. Maintaining composure is the first step in keeping a safe environment during power outages. Having temperature monitoring keeps stress levels low and gives you insights about the food in the refrigerators and freezers; this allows you to make sure foods are not reaching temperature danger zones. Temperature@lert’s cellular temperature monitoring system will keep updates flowing via text message and phone calls before danger zones are even reached. These alerts give you the ability to take measures without having to guess how long until corrective measures need to be taken. This way, the main priority can be making sure that students are taken care of.
For more on power outages in regards to restaurants, be sure to check back for the third installment of the power outage survival guide series.