With the increased push for better nutrition in schools, milk continues to be leading choice as the go to alternative to fruit juices and other drinks that can be high in sugars, School cafeterias are not only tasked with providing nutritious and healthful food, but also ensuring that it is safe for consumption while being easily accessible for students. Following are some of the primary considerations in how to choose a milk cooler that fits your needs.
Size and Capacity
Size and capacity of your milk cooler are important considerations that are based on location and accessibility. You must first determine who will be using the cooler. It does make a difference as to the age of the students for a number of reasons.
While it may be acceptable for younger children (elementary school) as well as older children (high school and college) to have open access to the product in a milk cooler, there may be precautionary restrictions when they are very young (second or third grade as opposed to being in grades six through twelve and beyond.
Location becomes a determining factor in either instance as it must fit into an ideal location for access by students as well as cafeteria employees. This leads to the consideration of capacity. The size of the student body is the next consideration. Total student population is not the sole determinant as the average daily consumption is a better determinant.
Many schools have more than one lunch period due to student body size or age classifications. Consequently, restocking from kitchen walk-in cooler or second milk cooler becomes a consideration that affects capacity.
Milk coolers often are point of sale units for more than cartons of milk, which can also vary in size. Consequently, other dairy items or small items that need to remain cold but not frozen may be part of the equation such as yogurt, smoothies etc. Locks may be a consideration as well depending on the placement of the cooler.
Construction, cooling efficiency and maintenance
Construction of the milk cooler is also a primary consideration for a variety of reasons. While a stainless steel exterior may be the most desirable, a powder coated exterior may be more aesthetically pleasing to ensure that the unit fits into a non-institutional design motif. The heart of the unit is its condensing unit, which keeps the contents at the proper temperature. For milk and other dairy products, the ideal temperature is between 35°F and 45°F.In order to maintain this temperature, the size, capacity and usage patterns of the unit are important considerations.
While superior units are highly accessible when in use as well as equipped with hinged lids that allow them to closed (and potentially locked) when not in immediate use, changing capacity over the course of hours of concentrated access as well as the normal fluctuations in stock can make it easier or harder for the condenser to maintain a constant temperature. Consequently, the unit must have a condenser that the manufacturer can verify meets the needs of the stated capacity. Ideally it should be self-adjusting to accommodate that constant temperature in the face of fluctuating use and capacity while also providing an easy means to monitor the temperature at a glance.
Just as maintaining the right temperature is an important safety consideration, so too is the cleaning and maintenance aspects of the milk cooler. The design and construction of the cooler must be such that the seals, hinges, doors and shelves as well as the mechanical areas not only provide a proper seal and durability, they must be easily accessible for the constant cleaning that must be part of any protocol. Removable plastic bottoms for pans and an easily removable vinyl gasket are necessities for cleaning as well.
The fan for the condenser keeps the air circulating to maintain the temperature, so dust vents must be adequately designed to allow free flow of air into the unit as well as being easily accessible for cleaning. Drain lines that take away the water from the condenser cooling process as well as the pans that catch the water must be designed for easy cleaning access and durability to ensure that it is easy to avoid spills, stains, dirt buildup and odors.
Last but not least, the manufacturer must be committed to acting as a partner in the decision making process so as to help make the best determination on a milk cooler that fits your specific needs. To see the wide selection and find out more about the milk coolers manufactured and sold by Powers Equipment, click here.