School Nutrition
Nov 16, 2022

Madera Unified School District upgraded its cafeteria operations with Therma° technology

Therma° provides new capabilities at school to Bryan Miller, Assistant Director of Child Nutrition at Madera Unified SD.

Madera Unified School District upgraded its cafeteria operations with Therma° technology
“Do you worry about the food in your freezers when you go on vacation, and do you want to know the temperatures at all hours? Then you need Therma°.” 

Purchase Therma° and install a temperature monitoring system by yourself

Bryan Miller researched Therma° competitors and was disheartened to see the upfront cost and time involved in their installation process. When Miller and his colleague found Therma°, they were surprised by just how simple it was to get started. They appreciated not needing to drill holes into their units or hard-wiring equipment. Therma’s connection via cell service meant they didn’t need to allow access to the school’s network, which would involve IT and introduce potential privacy issues. Miller simply plugged in the Therma° hub, zip-tied sensors into his units, and he was ready to monitor all of his cold storage from his mobile device. He appreciated the DIY, 10-minute installation process, saying, “Therma° is a really solid product, and I recommend it to anyone who works in school nutrition that I can.”

Therma° alerts provide peace of mind

Miller uses Therma° to keep track of his cold storage at school 24/7. Although he believes any industry would benefit from using Therma°, he thinks it’s essential in school cafeterias because of school breaks and holidays. When a cooler or freezer stops working when no one’s there, Miller is confident that his food inventory is protected with Therma° temperature monitoring alerts sent to his phone. This way, he can proactively book a service technician to meet him at school to fix it before he suffers an inventory loss.

His Therma° alerts give him peace of mind that his cooling unit temperatures are in range. He set up his Therma° dashboard to alert his supervisors when a temperature is out of range for 120 minutes. If it’s still out of range after 150 minutes, he and a colleague get a notification to be sure the problem is solved. He appreciates being able to set up tiered alerts like this, customized to send to the appropriate team members down to the minute. Proactively solving problems due to Therma° alerts has resulted in no food lost at Madera Unified School District when using Therma°.

Using Therma° avoids inventory loss and allows higher-quality food for students

At the last school district Miller worked for, they used an “old school” method of temperature monitoring. They would freeze a clear plastic cup with water and put a penny on top. If the penny fell deeper into the cup due to the water unfreezing, they knew they had experienced freezer temperatures that were too high. This inaccurate and reactive form of temperature monitoring led to a $7,000 food inventory loss in a freezer that contained expensive and perishable inventory like liquid eggs when they were away on a holiday break. At Madera Unified SD, their walk-in units are ten times the size of the previous district’s, and they wouldn’t be able to afford a food loss event at that scale. Miller also noted that due to our current “supply chain issue, we’re facing a shortage of food that the students love, like spicy chicken patties.” Since it is difficult to source the food they need in the current business climate, monitoring his inventory is even more critical today. 

Another great benefit of using Therma° is that Madera Unified SD can make more nutritious meals for the students. Because Miller is confident that their cooler and freezer temperatures are monitored 24/7 by Therma°, they can purchase higher-quality, raw foods that are typically more temperature sensitive and expensive than highly processed food items.

Operational efficiency leads to better management

In one of his kitchens, Miller noticed that the temperature was too high in a cooler containing salad prep ingredients like vegetables and dressings. So, he visited the site because the manager claimed the physical dial showed 35 degrees. When arriving at the site, he noticed, "She had hung the analog thermometer over the vent - so of course it was cold because that’s where the air comes out!” From then on, he’s been sure to train supervisors to place old thermometers and new Therma° sensors away from fans and doors so that the district gets accurate temperature readings. 

To ensure he’s following the health code, he trained supervisors to download Therma° reports and send them automatically. Therma’s automated reports feature has given his staff more responsibility and saved time every day instead of logging temperatures three times per day with varying levels of accuracy. Instead of being reactive when a cooler or freezer feels warmer than usual, they are now proactive in solving equipment problems using Therma°. During their last health code visit, the inspector was impressed that Therma’s technology tracks temperature and humidity 24/7.

Jimmy DeWater
Jimmy DeWater
PMM
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