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College Cafeterias Banish Serving Trays

College Cafeterias Are Going Trayless

In an attempt to cut costs and be more eco-chic, many college campuses have gotten rid of cafeteria trays. Instead, students are being forced to carry their meals on plates. The trayless cafeterias are seeing up to a 30 percent decrease in food waste, and with no trays to wash, the use of energy and water is reduced as well.

While school officials whole-heartedly embrace the change, many students are not happy. They dislike not being able to carry everything at once and are more inclined to spill.

I'm all for the discontinuation of cafeteria trays, not only because it helps the environment, but because it probably also causes students to eat less. Say good-bye to serving trays and say good-bye to the freshman 15! How do you feel about the trend?

Image Source: Getty
Join The Conversation
shellbelle1 shellbelle1 7 years
I work on a college campus and they're just started this within the last year. At first I really hated it and was annoyed by it, but I will have to admit that I do waste less food, so, it's a good thing. And of course saving water!
sassy_chick sassy_chick 7 years
They had trays at my school, but no one ever used them. It was considered uncool, I guess. A sure way to know if someone was a freshman or not was to see if they used a tray...
Spectra Spectra 7 years
We had trays in our dining hall in college and they were probably a good 20 years old or's not like they were making new ones every year or anything. They washed them just like dishes and it made carrying your food a lot easier, especially if you had a hot drink like coffee and a bowl of cereal and some fruit or something. I probably would've been upset if they didn't have them.
kurniakasih kurniakasih 7 years
If I were still working in the washroom (ahh, lovely college days LOL), this'd make my day. But I was a student who had to eat at the cafeteria at that time too, so it's kind of inconvenient. And I doubt people will stop throwing more food though. Dude, I don't understand when I was in college how kids can just be so wasteful with their food. :sigh:
Lonely-Ninja Lonely-Ninja 7 years
At my all-you-care to eat dining hall, there are a number of stations. My friends and I use lunch there as the main meal of the day, and a few of us live without meat the rest of the time. so I end up consuming most of my calories there, and have much smaller meals at breakfast and dinner. We have lovely food at my school, but if I want cooked broccoli from one stand, and nothing else from it, I can't put anything else on that plate, because of safety standards, So I have a plate with a few pieces of broccoli rolling around on it. Then I'll get whatever carved meat they're offering for the day, and my hands are now full. I don't have a drink, and there's no way, based on serving sizes and my needed caloric intake, I have a full meal. My normal meal as of late has been as follows: a cup of diet Coke, filled with water once that is finished, whatever chicken stirfry they're serving, along with the veggie stirfry, (which I pick through, as there are certain veggies I don't like), cut fresh fruit, salad, a cookie, and coffee. We're now talking about six different containers that I get up and down to retrieve. At best, very best, it'll only take four containers (but that's me taking the cookie without a plate, which they discourage.) And though the food is good, from time to time accidents are still made. I got some very, very, very salty cobbler the other day. It was an accident, as normally their cobbler is very good, but no one would eat it. I look like I'm wasting food, and have a full bowl to bus. I feel like I'd be less critical of them taking away our trays if we hadn't already used Styrofoam for a week since school started, since the carousel that takes the food back to the kitchen was broken. We also don't buy or use any food from local, sustainable food sources, even though we live in a deeply agricultural part of the state. In short, they're frustrating, lead to burning my hand on the soup I know must carry bowl to palm or spill, lead to a more difficult time while busing plates, and the school hasn't made other steps I believe should go along with this one, insignificant change that upset a good number of people.
xxstardust xxstardust 7 years
I didn't use them much before my cafeteria discontinued them anyway, but I highly doubt it will encourage anyone to eat less. I don't see it reducing food waste, in my cafeteria at least - it's the norm to take at least 2 dishes of food, if not more, and throw most of it out. However, that's because our food is generally really bad, and often looks a lot more edible then it ends up being!
ikimashokie ikimashokie 7 years
They tried it for a week. It was SUCH a pain! Then they made it permanent. Still a pain! Especially since it was in the AYCE dining hall. Sure, you can come and go as many times as you please, but if you want one thing from each shop, you could end up cartoonishly balancing plates across your arms! I was so worried I was going to drop something or spill plates together. It's still better than those stupid carrots admonishing you not to waste food.
bethinabox bethinabox 7 years
My school just got rid of the trays starting this semester. It's not a big inconvenience, get a plate of food and a drink, carry it to your table, then get up if you want more food! Although I don't know how much food waste it's eliminating - I work in the dish room in one of the dining halls, and there's still a LOT of food getting thrown out! People need to learn to only take what they'll actually eat, then get up for more if they're still hungry. It's ridiculous. And now I actually have to go to work. Fun times.
bengalspice bengalspice 7 years
I think it's a bad idea. Why not make the trays smaller instead of doing away with them complete? Or make serving ware smaller? I remember the glasses were so small in my college dining hall, so you either had to bring a water bottle to fill with enough water, or get tons of glasses to have enough to drink when you sat down to eat.
poizenisxkandee poizenisxkandee 7 years
woahhhh caterpillargirl. chill out. its a lot of money and water saving and yeah, its kinda greedy to save money by not having trays but really...just get up and get another plate. its really not that hard. unless you are really lazy and in that case, theres a whole other problem.
poizenisxkandee poizenisxkandee 7 years
my school has started doing this and i dont notice a difference. i never used trays anyway but they did show, with huge plastic bins, how much water is saved. cool.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 7 years
good lord whats next, carrying the food in your hands?
simplyfab87 simplyfab87 7 years
My school did this and its not that inconvenient. I worked in the dining hall and there was definitely less waste which is good and the amount of spills remained the same.
darc5204 darc5204 7 years
I'm on the fence here. It seems really annoying to have to carry a salad, soup, and drink (a perfectly reasonable meal) separately. Meanwhile, there are plenty of unhealthy meals that fit on one plate, and there is still pizza and beer. I don't think this is going to resolve bad habits or solve the freshman 15. Still, the eco argument seems reasonable. I would be willing to deal with a little annoyance if I knew it was significantly reducing waste.
Modus-Vivendi Modus-Vivendi 7 years
My first thought was that it probably helps people eat less by forcing them to make more trips because they can only eat what they carry.
pharm_chick pharm_chick 7 years
in my school we have cardboard trays, and i find them to be very convenient, considering we have only 2 hands and if you get a drink, soup and sandwich, theres no way to hold it all unless you have a tray! i hope my school doesnt get rid of them just yet.
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