Supplier case study: Hot Meals Delivered To The School Gate

07 November 2012
Supplier case study: Hot Meals Delivered To The School Gate

For caterers in need of transporting large portions of food to locations away from their production kitchens, the need to keep food hot is paramount. While insulated bags and carts will do the job to a certain degree, the Cambro Camcart from Imperial is perfect for caterers who need to deliver hot food from door to door without losing moisture, temperature or taste….

School caterers at Leicester City Council understand the importance of delivering high quality, hot food to the 90 schools under their remit in order to increase school meals uptake.

With only 67 production kitchens across the school sites, kitchen staff have a big job at hand in preparing and transporting hot and cold food to the 23 primary schools, which don't have any cooking facilities on site. These 23 dining centres rely on an organised team of cooks and drivers to ensure that when the meals are dished out to pupils from the servery, they still have that ‘fresh out the oven' appeal.

"We use the yellow buses, which transport the children to school in the morning, and are used to transport the elderly around during the day, to transport the meals at lunchtime. We have 80 primary schools and 10 senior schools in Leicester and all of our dining centres are at the primary schools. We transport meals at lunchtime from the primary schools that have production kitchens to the 23 that don't because the senior schools are busy at that time of day serving snacks at break time."

Sue explains that they have a traditional type of menu across all of their schools, with two meat choices, two vegetarian choices, plus a choice of vegetables and two desserts, as well as Halal options and an Asian vegetable kitchen. In addition to this, the secondary schools also offer a variety of snacks and grab and go items to choose from.

"Our main challenge in the kitchens is finding the balance between healthy food and something the children like," said Sue.

Feeling hot hot hot
Sue and her team started using the Cambro Camcart in May and they have certainly been reaping the benefits.

The Cambro Camcart UPCH-Series is designed and built by Cambro Manufacturing Company, the US market leader in insulated transport for food. It provides a 45-minute preheat time from room temperature and the gentle, 150°-165°F (65°-74°C) heat will not cook food, but will maintain food moisture. After reaching temperature, caterers can rest assured that in unplugging the unit the temperature will be maintained for up to four hours in transportation. What's more, in opening the door for 30 seconds, the temperature of the unit will recover in just three minutes.

The capacity of the Cambro Camcart is tremendous, holding 16 full size 4-inch (10cm) deep pans, equating to 720 servings. While the vertical vents constantly circulate heat from front to back for consistent temperature.

"We used to use insulated bags and boxes to transport the food," said Sue. "Some of them were Cambro boxes and we used some of the non-heated carts as well. The bags were large enough to hold gastro norm containers but they weren't very robust.

"We are really pleased with the Cambro Camcart and we have three in our operation now. Each holds 135 meals, which makes it far easier for the drivers transporting the meals and of course it keeps the food hot, which is the main thing we wanted to achieve.

"We have some dining centres where the food arrives before the catering staff are on site so the driver is able to plug the Cambro Camcart in when he arrives to keep the food hotter for longer."

Sue said they have had very good feedback from all the staff that uses the Cambro Camcart. "They find it easy to pack, easy to keep clean and they have said the food looks appetising when it comes out," said Sue. "The serving staff have noticed a difference and the driver finds it easy to transport also. It has been a good investment for us."

In addition, the Cambro Camcart came into its own recently when the roof of one of the kitchens leaked during heavy rainfall, causing the asbestos ceiling to collapse. "We used the Cambro Camcarts to serve in the community centre next door to the kitchen and we served hot food out of them," said Sue. "We were able to move them around and use them in that instance."

For further information, visit or call 01509 260150.

This case studywas provided by Imperial and Hatco supplier profile: Imperial and Hatco

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