EL CENTRO – The Imperial County Probation Department received a check for a $100,000 grant Friday morning that will be used to replace the current outdated kitchen appliances at the County’s Juvenile Hall. Originating from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the check for the funds was delivered by Sen. Ben Hueso, 40th District.
In January, the Probation Department received an award notification from the California Department of Education advising they had been selected to receive a grant award of $100,000 to replace aging kitchen equipment in the County’s Juvenile Hall. The grant will go towards purchasing replacements for the majority of the kitchen’s large appliances.
The Imperial County Probation Department’s food service prepares meals to meet specific nutritional requirements set forth by the State of California. The food service facility cooks and serves approximately 97.4 meals per day for youth and the Juvenile Hall facility and the Betty Jo McNeece Receiving Home combined. The kitchen was built in 1976 and most of the equipment has not been replaced or updated in over 25 years.
“I am thrilled knowing we are getting our entire kitchen appliances replaced,” said Pam Allen, food service supervisor for the Juvenile Hall. “Our equipment now constantly breaks down, costing us a lot of money that we will be saving in the long run after the new equipment is installed.”
“Cooking in an outdated kitchen can be dangerous for many reasons,” said Hueso. “First, refrigerators may not be able to keep foods at proper temperatures, which may lead to health and safety issues. Secondly, electric outlets and cords may also be a potential fire hazard and lastly, old appliances consume more energy. I am thrilled Juvenile Hall now has the opportunity to utilize updated kitchen appliances which will eliminate any potential hazard and reduce energy consumption and costs.”
The new equipment includes the kitchen’s combi oven, a reach-in refrigerator, a mobile heated cabinet, a mobile refrigerator cabinet, an ice maker, and funds to purchase a new gas tilting skillet. This new equipment will increase the Department’s ability to serve healthier meals to a potentially larger group of children while simultaneously operating an energy-efficient kitchen, reducing energy costs by approximately 25%.
“The fact that we have to provide meals for so many people in that environment, new equipment makes it all more affordable,” said Hueso. “More importantly, it will be a healthier working environment; something that we strive for at all levels of government to provide for our employees.”
District 5 Supervisor Raymond Castillo thanked Hueso for his continued hard work and said was grateful his continued support to the county.
Additionally, Imperial County Chief Probation Officer Daniel Prince thanked Allen and her staff, who on a daily basis, prepare meals regardless of the struggles they have to face with the constant appliance breakdowns.
According to Allen, the new equipment will be installed by August.