Universities go green by eliminating cafeteria trays
Universities across the US are starting to ban cafeteria trays. I found this piece quite interesting, but I’m torn if a ban will actually make a difference. It seems like the banning of trays would be more of a hassle for students causing more of a problem. I remember going to eat in the dorms in college, you have your backpack and/or books and to not have a tray to go get your food seems like a real pain. How are you supposed to balance everything? The background of the ban has to do with the saving of water and eliminating food waste. These are both good points – but I’m still concerned on how students will manage carrying everything without dropping stuff. I’m also curious as to if students will start buying their own trays and bringing them with them when they go to eat.
In one of the latest - and perhaps quirkiest - environmentally conscious initiatives, cafeteria trays are becoming as outdated as mystery meat.
Ditching the trays decreases food waste, conserves water and energy used in cleaning and reduces the need for polluting detergents, according to proponents of trayless dining. The move comes as campuses are competing to be the greenest by starting bike-sharing programs, adding environmental majors, focusing on energy efficiency and hiring "sustainability" coordinators. But critics of the tray takeaway, including Bacon, have a menu of complaints: It's cumbersome to carry multiple plates. It's disruptive to make several trips to get more food. And it takes longer to clear dirty dishes from the table
Other colleges also are testing trayless dining. Aramark, a food service provider at 500 colleges and universities, estimates that 50 to 60% of its campuses will go trayless this year, a trend that began at a few colleges last spring. The company predicts that food waste will be reduced by 1.2 to 1.8 ounces per person at each meal.
At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, one of the seven cafeterias removed trays this year, a pilot program that could expand if it saves energy and money. The cafeteria switched from 8-ounce to 12-ounce glasses to make the change easier for students, who often had filled two of the smaller glasses
Loyola University Chicago plans to remove trays from one cafeteria during Hunger Week this fall to evaluate whether it decreases food waste.
After a trial run last spring, the University Center Chicago, a multi-university dorm, has largely banished trays, leaving just a small stack by the cafeteria's entrance. If you take a tray, you also will get a guilt trip. "Do You Really Need Me?" asks a sign by the trays.
University Center officials, who serve about 2,800 meals a day, say they have noticed that students are eating less. Instead of filling a tray with two plates, a bowl and several glasses, students are taking one plate of food and a drink. If they're still hungry, they get up for seconds.
At Knox College, the student government association approved a resolution last year to remove cafeteria trays starting this fall. Mayer, the dining official, predicts a 30 percent to 50 percent reduction in food waste, allowing the college to save $30,000 annually in food purchases.
If they ban the use of trays, what exactly will they do with the trays that they used to use??
At Lake Forest College, dining director Michael Bennett hasn't decided what to do with the 1,000 green plastic trays stacked floor-to-ceiling in the kitchen.
"We don't want to throw them in a landfill," he said.
What do you think? Is banning cafeteria trays a good idea or no, or are you torn like myself?
Here are some opinions noted in the article:
"At most, I'll carry two, maybe three plates on top of each other," Bacon, 18, said. "I would love to have a tray."
"It makes me miserable every day," Lake Forest senior Patrick Casten said, grumbling as he cut into a slice of meatloaf. "I asked for a tray in the beginning of the year and even offered to wash it myself. They said no."
The change caught Sanam Vazirabadi, a sophomore at Roosevelt University in Chicago, off-guard when she returned to school. Instead of balancing a plate of food on a tray, she balanced it atop her books. She twice dropped a knife before sitting down to eat.
"It makes it more difficult, that's for sure," she said.
"It does save you from eating too much," said Roosevelt University freshman Nicole Koehle, 18, who recently ate ravioli and sweet and sour chicken for lunch. "People probably don't feel like getting up to get more."
I also found a couple interesting opinions from the Chicago Tribune:
I laughed at the story about college campuses going green by eliminating cafeteria trays, assuming the student will eat less ("Friendly to planet, rude to diners," Page 1, Sept. 7). I attended one college that used meal plans that consisted of a meal card with your photo and flat fee for meals each semester. We were allowed three meals a day with limited items and we had trays to carry our meals.
Eliminating trays to save water, I do not understand. Global warming is supposed to be bringing us an abundance of water, why the conservation?
If getting rid of college cafeteria trays is such a good idea, then why aren't other cafeterias getting rid of them? I eat at the IKEA cafeteria every now and then, and the use of trays is alive and well. It appears to me that IKEA would need to have employees bus tables or change the layout of the cafeteria, if it did away with trays.
While there are people who will try to put as much food as possible on a tray, to me, it's still necessary to have a tray. It's far easier to carry a dinner plate with entree and vegetable, a salad plate, a dessert plate, napkin, silverware, and a glass or coffee cup on a tray, then to force students make repeated trips through the serving lines.
If college administrators think that this is going to reduce wasted food, they are mistaken. My guess is that college administrators don't go to Las Vegas very often, where diners in casino buffets pile food four, five, and even six inches high on a dinner plate, just to reduce the number of trips through the serving lines. Undoubtedly, college students will start daring each other to see how much food they can pile on a dinner plate.
For students who believe they need a tray, here's a word of advice. They should buy their own trays and carry them from their dorm rooms to the dining hall. It might be a bit like flying, where passengers need to bring their own food, beverages, pillows, blankets, and magazines, but it beats having to go through the serving line several times before taking the first bite of a meal.
Downers Grove, Ill.