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Johnson City Schools uses Therma° to reduce food waste


  • A Therma° sensor deployed in a Johnson City Schools freezer alerted cafeteria managers just in time to save a $6,000 food inventory loss 
  • Johnson City Schools’ Assistant Food Service Supervisor maintains peace of mind and visibility into cafeteria operations while she's away by using Therma°
  • Therma's mobile app and alerts provide ease of use to track temperature and humidity for 12 sites and 29 cooling units


Hannah Upchurch, Assistant Food Service Supervisor for Johnson City Schools (JCS) in Tennessee juggles the food service operations for 11 schools and an off-site freezer storage facility. With 12 sites and 29 pieces of cooling equipment to maintain, she didn’t have adequate technology in place to manage such a large operation. 


She inherited a temperature and humidity monitoring system that didn’t satisfy her department’s needs, and in a few ways, detracted from the efficiency she had hoped for. When her previous system detected a temperature issue, it would call employees seemingly at random: “sometimes a janitor, sometimes the principal, sometimes me, or someone who was a manager at Johnson City Schools 5 years ago!” Adding to it, she didn’t get specific alerts that pinpointed the exact unit that needed attention, so maintenance needs were always a guess.


Upchurch also travels to work conferences often and loses visibility into the day-to-day operations of the cafeterias she oversees. Her cafeteria managers logged temperature data once in the morning and once in the evening, but when she would arrive back at school, she noticed the logs were filled out “with the same pen and the same temperature at the same time each day.” This results in anxiety when she imagines what's going on at school when she isn't there and if her department will suffer a food loss incident while she’s away. 


Over a two-week period last year, she had two refrigerators die in succession which led to $2,000 of food loss for her department - the cost of which was lost in full. She then started looking for a system that would better fit her needs and booked a demo with Therma°.


Upchurch was impressed with the affordability that Therma° offered for its temperature and humidity monitoring solution compared to its competitors.


She signed up for Therma° right away and sent a cafeteria manager to deploy the sensors without the use of a maintenance tech or IT. The cafeteria manager who set them up doesn’t have an extensive background in technology but was able to install Therma° on their own. Upchurch also used Therma’s teams and users feature to add her cafeteria managers to the JCS dashboard, so they could all download the app and see the temperatures on their own devices. This has led to increased team efficiency and better accountability amongst cafeteria managers.


Now when Upchurch is away, she can stay informed with a clear view of the temperature data in real-time and knows the logs can't be manipulated.


With Therma° deployed at all 11 schools in Johnson City, Upchurch notes that the biggest selling point for her is the mobile app, ease of use, and remote alerting features. She recommends Therma° to any school nutrition team.


Most recently, Upchurch received a Therma° alert for a freezer that was out of temperature range and kept a close eye to be sure it wasn’t just in a normal defrost mode. She used Therma’s data in her mobile app to determine that the temperature she was seeing was outside of historical trends. She immediately got help from employees in her department to haul the food inventory to the closest Johnson City school nearby before moving it into a mobile rental freezer. The cost of this food spoilage incident saved due to Therma°? A total of $6,000.


She relies on Therma° to maintain her peace of mind while focusing on the reason she's at school: her passion for feeding kids. As she puts it, "All the other stuff can have its good and bad parts. But at the end of the day, I know that what I'm doing is helping feed kids every day, so it makes it all worth it.”