Piling plates of food in The View might not be possible next fall because you may not have a tray to stack them on.
Executive chef Ken Grogg said the university is starting to explore the trayless option in hopes to control the waste of food and water usage.
“Students will go around the (cafeteria), and then they’ll take a plate from three or four different (stations) that we have in there, and then we see half of that food in the pig buckets that go out to the farmers,” Grogg said. “It’s just a great deal of waste.”
St. Thomas has gotten the trayless inspiration from other schools.
Concordia-Moorhead went trayless in the school’s Anderson Commons dining facility in 2009. Concordia’s research showed that 236.75 pounds of wasted food was collected off of trays within two hours. When trays were removed, food waste dropped 40 percent, and Concordia saves 200,000 gallons of water each semester by going trayless.
Other colleges and universities that removed trays from dining facilities include the University of Minnesota, North Dakota State University, New York University, Berkeley, University of Illinois and Virginia Tech.
Junior Rachel Siteman said she doesn’t see any good way for students to transfer meals to their tables without a tray.
“Hopefully, it’s an initiative to be green and in that case, it’s a really great idea,” Siteman said. “But at the same time, I think it’s going to be extremely cumbersome to the students who are trying to get a lot of food.”
Grogg said the most important part about going trayless is how it will help students learn what a portion size really is and encourage students to eat a healthier diet.
“It’s still an all-you-care-to-eat concept in The View, but in this way, the students will take less at one time,” Grogg said.
Grogg hopes The View will serve food without trays beginning fall semester 2013. To get a good understanding of how the students will react to the idea of removing the trays, Grogg said workers at The View will speak with some student groups and the building management about the concept.
“I think this is a pretty progressive population of students, and I think they want us to be responsible,” Grogg said. “They will still be allowed to have whatever they want and as much of what they want, but they will have to be more thoughtful about what they’re doing.”
Grogg said the trays will not be discarded because the facility caters for organizations and plans to use the trays for special events.
Sophomore Leah Miller said she never uses a tray when dining in The View because it “makes more sense” not to.
“I’m not going to take two plates mounding with food that I need a tray to carry when I know I’m only going to eat one plate,” Miller said. “And then if I want more, I have to make the conscious decision to go get up and go get more food.”
However, freshman John Hunt said he thinks this change will be more of a hassle.
“I have two cups, two plates and silverware on my tray,” Hunt said. “I won’t have a plate for fruit, soup, salad and a plate for an actual meal.”
Hunt also said students will have to make multiple trips to grab food, and it could lead to congestion in The View.
Siteman said going trayless might make her think twice about how often she eats in The View.
“If I want a really heavy meal, I’m not going to go there now because I won’t be able to get it all at once,” Siteman said. “It’s going to be a pain.”
Bjorn Saterbak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.