Buies Creek, N.C.—Last spring the Campbell University Student Government Association (SGA) voted to reduce the University’s carbon footprint and conserve energy by going “tray-less” in the dining halls. “Tray-less dining may seem like a small sacrifice, but its impact can be felt throughout the campus,” said SGA President Hank Raper.
Larry Aldridge, director of dining at Campbell for ARAMARK, a national food services corporation, elaborated on Raper’s comments.
Going tray-less reduces our global impact on the environment reduces food waste, conserves energy and water, and reduces chemical usage such as detergents, rinse and drying agents, Aldridge said. There are also intrinsic long-term benefits for students, faculty and staff such as encouraging healthier eating habits through portion control and increasing awareness of food waste. In fact, statistics show that moving to tray-less dining reduces food waste by 20-40 percent, water usage by one-third to one-half gallon per tray and energy use by 1.8 to 4.4 cents per tray.
According to an article published in USA Today, campuses from New York to Florida that have already tested the concept reported food waste declines of up to 50 percent and thousands of dollars in energy savings. A spokesman for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education also predicted that most of the nation’s 4,000 colleges will cut trays from their dining services within the next five years.
Lowered production costs are then passed along to students through reduced meal pricing, greater menu options and more premium dining options. In a nation-wide survey conducted by Aramark this spring, 79 percent of 92,000 students said they supported tray-less dining to reduce campus waste.
“There were students loading up trays with plates and plates of food they were not eating,” said Raper. “It’s really a satisfaction to know that by saving on food costs, meal plan costs will stay down, more people will be able to remain on the meal plan and service and dining quality will be better.”
Student Will Roberts, who is enrolled in Campbell University for summer school, said he is adjusting to the tray-less dining policy.
“Not having a tray isn’t as convenient,” Roberts said, “but when you think about the overall savings in money and energy, it does make a lot of sense.”