Monday, September 08, 2008

Going Trayless: College Cafeterias Dump Food Trays

Something familiar will be missing when students buy meals at many college dining halls this fall: trays.

In a bid to discourage food waste and decrease energy use at all-you-can-eat campus cafeterias, dozens of college dining services — from New York University to University of Minnesota (to the University of Michigan-Flint's new cafeteria) — are giving trays the heave.

Some campuses that already have tested the concept report food waste declines of up to 50%. Then, there's the thousands of dollars in energy savings when trays don't need washing.

12 Comments:

At 9/08/2008 11:39 AM, Anonymous Don Lloyd said...

It would be a true catastrophe if college students had to pay actual money for such a fundamental necessity as food. How much food would not be wasted if it were not unlimited and free?

We should look forward to reducing our usage of gasoline by requiring that you fill your tank a thimblefull at a time.

Regards, Don

 
At 9/08/2008 11:44 AM, Blogger Ironman said...

Just imagine the savings when they also stop providing plates! No more dishes to wash = not having to employ dishwashers + no environmentally-unsafe dish cleaning agents + no replacement costs for broken or stolen dishes + even less food waste! It's the ultimate solution to so many different problems!

Why would anyone oppose this if it produces so many desirable effects?

I wonder how that cafeteria is doing financially? Are they turning anywhere near the same numbers they were last year?

 
At 9/08/2008 12:32 PM, Anonymous Don Lloyd said...

If you try to bring in your own tray or plate, do they call in the SWAT team?

Regards, Don

 
At 9/08/2008 1:08 PM, Anonymous Kevin Murphy said...

I just can't believe that even a business somewhat insulated from the profit motive like a college cafeteria was able to reduce waste and lower cost without a federal mandate.

 
At 9/08/2008 3:18 PM, Blogger randian said...

It would be a true catastrophe if college students had to pay actual money for such a fundamental necessity as food.

When I went to college, food service was an extra-cost item. Why do you presume otherwise?

 
At 9/08/2008 3:19 PM, Blogger Thomas Blair said...

Kevin Murphy,

Many of them are not insulated from the profit motive. At my university, Chartwells operated the dining service. Aramark and Sodexho are also big players in the food preparation industry.

I'd argue that outsourcing the food preparation to a private company was good for the everybody. The food improved. Chartwells is (presumably) making money. The school can focus on educating and not administering campus dining options.

 
At 9/08/2008 3:55 PM, Anonymous Don loyd said...

"When I went to college, food service was an extra-cost item. Why do you presume otherwise?"

All-you-can-eat means zero marginal cost for unlimited quantities, AFAIK. But I have trouble imagining whan a trayless cafeteria would look like. If trayless was so great, wouldn't the shareholders of McDonald's and BurgerKing have insisted on it as well? Of course, they WANT patrons.

Regards, Don

 
At 9/08/2008 4:22 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> Some campuses that already have tested the concept report food waste declines of up to 50%.


Uh, what about packaging wastes?

If you're not putting stuff on trays, then you're going to have to package them more for individual carrying.

This looks like robbing peter to pay paul, and ignoring the full consequences in favor of special results.

> was able to reduce waste and lower cost without a federal mandate.

See above and wait for answers.

 
At 9/08/2008 4:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you're not putting stuff on trays, then you're going to have to package them more for individual carrying.

Well, you don't have to do that if you mandate that each student must buy a pre-paid card for use in the cafeteria. Then, it doesn't matter how you package it. They have to buy it. This was the practice at my undergraduate university. That is until they began failing health inspections, and parents raised hell.

 
At 9/08/2008 6:05 PM, Blogger Dr. T said...

"Kevin Murphy said...
I just can't believe that even a business somewhat insulated from the profit motive like a college cafeteria was able to reduce waste and lower cost without a federal mandate."

Most college cafeterias are run by for-profit services such as Aramark.

Nearly all cost-cutting measures now are touted as 'environment-friendly.' The lack of trays means that students must carry a dinner plate, silverware, napkin, drink, salad plate, and dessert plate by hand and still be able to present a meal card. Impossible. No trays means more trips through the line for those who want to eat a full meal. Since many students are pressed for time, they skip something (probably the salad). My daughter isn't bothered by this, but she's only 4' 9" and a finicky eater. The big athletic types are the ones most inconvenienced.

 
At 9/08/2008 10:26 PM, Blogger randian said...

All-you-can-eat means zero marginal cost for unlimited quantities

Our cafeteria had all you can eat too. All you can eat saves the cost of extra employees to police student eating and the cost of packaging for individual-sized portions. The only real limit was you couldn't take food out of the cafeteria, to prevent a paying student from taking food for a non-paying student. In practice students stopped eating when they were full, just like they would elsewhere.

 
At 9/09/2008 8:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My dad's brilliant idea when my sister informed him of this new policy at her school wa to sell trays with backpack straps attached for studnts to carry with them! Not very practical, but pretty creative.

 

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