Coronavirus: shipping container kitchens and hunger relief

December 7, 2021
Hunger relief shipping container kitchen

Shipping container kitchens to serve the food insecure in time of Coronavirus

The Coronavirus pandemic has triggered food insecurity for millions of people. In the United States, 22 million children received free or reduced price lunches daily before the pandemic. The shift to remote learning has left many children hungry alongside their parents who may be have lost income to lay-offs.  Hunger is going to be a challenging logistics problem for governments and non-profits alike, and scaling up food prep capacity will be critical for historic task at hand. Placing a shipping container kitchen on site is a fast, adaptable way to add cooking space for high volume service.

When given proper support, many schools can continue serving lunches through drive through pick up. Take the Los Angeles Unified School District. In one month the school district has served 9.8 million meals to not just students, but anyone who shows up, no questions asked. The meals are simple, sometimes even a bag of groceries with a few sandwiches, but they’re making a huge difference in their communities. In the long term, sending people home with hot meals could be a much-needed morale boost. Cooking in school cafeterias is an excellent starting point that can be taken to the next level with supporting container kitchens.

Shipping container kitchens to serve volunteers and essential workers

Essential workers at hospitals and critical infrastructure services are putting in long hours and sometimes avoiding going home entirely to protect loved ones from exposure. Packaged meals and sandwiches will hold people over, but they will quickly get old, especially in an already high stress situation. Adding hot food service to the job site will provide much needed support to workers.


What shipping container kitchens bring to the table


A shipping container kitchen can be:

  • Properly sanitized offsite before delivery.
  • Delivered and placed while enforcing proper social distancing.
  • Up and running the same day of delivery.

When you’re trying to enforce quarantine and social distancing, bringing an entire construction crew to add kitchen space is risky in a context of Coronavirus pandemic. The heavy lifting in construction makes social distancing impractical, if not impossible for the crew.

Modular construction offers a significant advantage in biosecurity.  Maintaining a consistent manufacturing team and implementing biosecurity protocols is easier in an in-house factory lay-out. Before a modified shipping container kitchen leaves on the truck for delivery, the in-house team can thoroughly sanitize the final product. Placing the container in a parking lot can be as simple as a forklift driver lifting it off the truck bed, zero touch required. Connecting to power and water is also a simple one-person job. Small teams can get containerized kitchens up and running while effectively practicing social distancing.

interior shipping container kitchen
Shipping container kitchen interior


Mobile kitchen containers fit into your plans with:

  • Flexible placement via forklift or trailer.
  • Customizable interior layouts.

Proper design for food distribution amidst social distancing minimizes interactions between workers and clients. The goal is to create a streamlined flow of ingredient drop off, food preparation, and then delivery. The 16-square grid system linked here is an excellent example. When schools take the lead on distribution, they often integrate social distancing protocols into existing systems. The car line is great for curbside pickup and cafeterias can of course be used for food prep.

Modular structures adapt to the spaces they’re in. Instead of rethinking a system around a kitchen, modified container kitchens can fit into the operations already running. If a school wants to place the kitchen on a loading dock or beside a cafeteria, it’s doable so long as a forklift can reach the space.

The same goes for hospitals and infrastructure services who fight everyday Coronavirus. If a hospital wants to put the kitchen in a green space where employees can take a moment away from the chaos, it’s probably doable. Grey water tanks keep placement flexible if the ideal location isn’t right next to a sewer line. If you foresee a need for frequent relocation, trailers are an option. If you’re looking to serve hearty, healthy food as quickly as possible, prep surfaces, cleaning areas, and stoves can be configured to support that goal. Interior designs are as flexible as the container’s placement.

40' Vanguard shipping container kitchen


Modular kitchens serve thousands of people daily with:

  • High quality materials and manufacturing in the United States.
  • Floor plans tested and used by the military.

Triple compartment sinks are prepared for heavy dish rotation. ContekPro’s shipping container kitchens come with two service windows to keep lines properly spaced and efficient. Because we build our containers in-house in the United States, we know we’re putting the highest quality materials into the container with quality workmanship.

Modified shipping container kitchens cost around 20-30% less than stick built kitchens, but we understand that they’re still a substantial investment for hunger relief services and hospitals. Containerized kitchens are not a cheap fix because they’re built to last. For instance, the Vanguard containerized kitchen series is specifically designed to serve thousands of people a day with minimal maintenance needs. This series is a best-seller among the military, construction companies and mining camps. If an organization doesn’t want to hold onto a containerized kitchen after the pandemic, we’re confident the workmanship will hold up well enough for resale to restaurants and street food vendors years later.

Shipping container kitchen equipment
Shipping container kitchen equipment


ContekPro’s modified kitchen containers stay up to code with:

  • Easy-to-sanitize stainless steel walls behind appliances.
  • Handwashing sinks and compartment sinks.
  • Hood with an integrated fire-suppression system.

ContekPro’s modified shipping container kitchens are guaranteed to be built to the health and safety standards of professional kitchens. It’s unclear if a coding official would come by for an inspection given the crisis, but you can have peace of mind knowing that the kitchen is safe for workers and the people who will be consuming the food.

All finishes are non-porous and easy to sanitize after each use. Even the flooring is anti-bacterial. Instant water heaters and soap dispenser support proper handwashing in designated sinks. Ventilation and AC come standard to keep the cooks cool. Should you want to resell the kitchen after the Coronavirus pandemic, you’ll be able to the buyer that your containerized kitchen is up to code.

Shipping container kitchen delivery
Shipping container kitchen delivery

If you have questions about how a shipping container kitchen can help your organization during the Coronavirus pandemic, please contact us.

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