Sunday, April 11, 2010

Behind The Kitchen Door Series: Dishwashing and Reusable Glasses

Though not a glamorous topic, dishwashing is a big piece of the puzzle to improving school lunch.  Cooking from scratch uses lots of pots and pans, and more of the kitchen's resources need to go towards washing those items.  For example, replacing a frozen pre-panned mac-and-cheese requires us to boil lots of pasta and make a cheese sauce using pots and pans that we need to wash at the end of the day. It’s a lot harder than dishing out the thaw-and-serve version in foil pans.

My school used a huge chunk of our equipment budget this year purchasing
 a new commercial dishwasher when our previous one broke down.

Time is a big issue. Someone’s time needs to go toward washing dishes instead of serving or preparing lunch. Another concern is space. With increased use of pots and pans, there needs to be enough space in the dish washing area to hold the pans before and after they go through the dishwasher.

In an effort to be more environmentally friendly, my school kitchen stopped using paper plates, foam bowls, and plastic utensils.  Now there's even more dishwashing and little space for it. We’re bulging at the seams.

A school nearby recently unveiled a new and spacious kitchen that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. I hear that their salad prep room compares in size to that of my school’s entire kitchen. But that new kitchen lacks a commercial dishwasher. This suggests that they produce tons of trash with the daily use of disposable plates and utensils and that they aren’t aiming to produce their food in-house, which usually warrants the expense of a commercial dishwasher.

On Monday: some pictures of our dishwashing area in action and more about how my school switched from disposable dining-ware to reusable stuff.

The Behind the Kitchen Door Series is a collection of pieces about the different component that make up my school kitchen. The reason I’m writing these pieces is to shed some light on how my school is making improvements to our school lunch. I covered the salad bar last week in two posts, The Salad Bar and More About the Salad Bar.  Next week I'll write about the soup bar.


  1. I am very interested to hear more about the reuse of dishes, utensils, and trays. My school distict has resisted changing, saying that it would be a larger negative environmental impact (hot water and soap runoff) to wash and reuse than it currently is to dispose of dishes and utensils and recycle the styrofoam trays. Any insight you might provide would be most welcome!

  2. Hi Ms. A,

    Congratulations on your first month blogging.
    I have never given thought to the environmental impact of the dishwasher in our kitchen as opposed to styrofoam trays. We have our own hot water heater for our dishwasher and the soap seems not to be a problem versus lots of plastic going to the landfil as we do not recycle here at our school.

    I wonder some time if you will allow a time for questions and answers.

    Was the Asparagus a success?

    You are so lucky to be where you are. I hit a brick wall everyday with my boss but I keep trying. I come here for peace of mind.

    Love your blog,
    Mrs. S

  3. I notice you've got the Ecolab Apex system. Good for you, that cuts out a ton of wasted water and is lighter for transportation.

  4. I love my kitchen,when i bought my house through costa rica homes for sale i expected to have a big kitchen and now i am really happy.

  5. There are now alternatives to reduce the polystyrene waste associated with using disposable trays which include reducing the volume by 95%. This makes a huge difference on what is currently being thrown into the landfills.

  6. There is a new "green" technology which provides the best of both worlds. It is called StyroGenie ( This allows the disposable trays to be used, which are much more sanitary than reusable trays anyway. It also saves on water and other utilities. End product can be turned into child art projects and virtually nothing goes into the landfills. Both problems solved.

  7. This is to lunch ladys .We see you all as good workers. Its to bad there are a frew in the the work place that have too pay people to get what they want.Or better they to kiss ass to get it.You people have to look into the people up at Durfee kitchen.Take a long look.There is one person that every person you all to take a eye too.That is Jackie MICHELLS she is the one that will cut your neck.On top of that she is a man hunter a as long as she has her boyfriend DENNIS to do her work she will do ok.She plays a good game and it to bad her husband dont know.She a snick that gets what she wants.

  8. I actually enjoyed reading through this posting.Many thanks.

    Commercial Dishwasher