Cambro Products

Healthcare Facilities Solve Pandemic Meal Service Problems While Preparing for Future

Many healthcare foodservice providers are still struggling to keep up with changes associated with the coronavirus pandemic. Rob Rodas, Director of Culinary Services with Knute Nelson Senior Living Facilities in Minnesota, needed to find a product that could transport food from their main kitchens to resident rooms and dining rooms. However, he thought beyond his current circumstances to find a solution that would benefit his operation long-term. Cambro’s UPCH1600 Camcart fulfilled Rodas’ three needs: Hot and cold temperature retention, fast shipping and regular use for them after the pandemic ends.

Requirement #1: Hot and cold temperature retention


Knute Nelson’s facilities normally serve food in communal dining rooms and on-site restaurants, but now they only serve pre-plated meals.

“We’ve had to box up all the meals and then deliver them to their apartments. We didn’t have the equipment to do that before, so I ordered [the UPCH1600] carts. I like them a lot because you can either plug them in and turn them on hot or you can use them cold or you can do one hot, one cold,” said Rodas. “Originally I was going to buy carts from a different company…those carts are metal carts and the whole cart is heated. You cannot just heat one compartment and keep the other one cold, which doesn’t really work with what we do. We have some cold items that have to go up as well.”

Rodas’ team uses the carts with Camlite® Trays to perform two types of service: socially distanced meals in the dining room for those who need assistance and meal delivery to residents’ rooms.

“We have a nursing home and we’ve been using [the UPCH1600] to plate all the meals in the main kitchen and then delivering them to the dining rooms where we have to have some of the people that need assistance eating. They cannot eat in their rooms,” said Rodas. “We just plate the meals in the main kitchen, and they stay hot all the way through until we’re done. The carts have been a lifesaver, actually.”

Although it’s an adjustment socially for residents, they’re still being provided with food served at the right temperatures.

“We gotta tell them to be careful when we put the plates in front of them because they are hot; they say the food stays really nice and hot. We don’t have complaints about people getting cold food or anything like that,” said Rodas.

Requirement #2: Fast shipping

When Rodas inquired about the UPCH1600 Camcarts, Cambro already had three ready to be shipped out. After receiving his first three carts, he liked them so much he decided to order two more. In comparison, the metal carts Rodas looked at “took over a month and a half to get.”

Cambro is deemed an essential service and will continue to operate our manufacturing and distribution facilities in both California and North Carolina to support the demands of the foodservice industry. Having production and inventory located in the US allows us to quickly deliver our products to meet our customers needs.

Requirement #3: Regular use for product in the future

Once Knute Nelson is able to open their dining rooms and restaurants, Rodas will move their UPCH1600 carts to one of their facilities that has the capabilities to host events like bridal showers, weddings and business meetings.

“We have banquets at [Grand Arbor] and when this is over, because this thing isn’t going to last forever… we’re trying to buy something that we can use for all these banquets that we do; these carts are perfect for hotel pans,” said Rodas. “We do weddings for hundreds of people, so [the UPCH1600] is actually perfect.”

Knute Nelson is planning to build another large facility capable of hosting 300 visitors this year. Rodas says he plans to take some of their new UPCH1600 carts to the new facility as well.

Cambro’s UPCH1600 is designed to be a one-stop solution for meal service. Made with an energy-efficient heater built into the door, non-radiant heat protects—not dry out—prepped food. The UPCH1600 has a thick CFC-free insulation that safely holds prepped food for at least four hours without electricity. Ergonomic, unbreakable molded-in handles with both fixed and swivel casters allow for easy maneuvering. Contact your local Cambro rep to find the right insulated transport unit for your operation.


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