Beyond the ‘Burg: UD students provide their own trays

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September 19, 2008

11:08 AM

At the University of Delaware, it’s BYOT — bring your own tray, that is.

In response to UD’s decision to end the use of food trays in the cafeteria, senior Eric Dramstad went into the tray-selling business. According to The Review, the UDs student newspaper, Dramstad ordered 20 trays off the Internet and is selling them for $5 each.

UD’s dining service, Aramark, does not offer trays in an effort to curtail food waste and unnecessary water usage. The school gave some of the retired trays to the art department for projects, but the majority of the 3,500 trays are in storage until a better use is found for them.

“Dining’s ultimate goal for the trays removed from the dining halls is to ensure none of the trays make it into a landfill,” Ryan Boyer, the marketing program manager for the university’s dining services, told The Review.

Though the dining service does not provide trays, students are allowed to bring their own. Dramstad bought his own orange cafeteria tray and has been using it all semester. He also brings a water bottle to rinse his tray clean after eating.

Other students have been protesting the trayless dining halls as well. Senior Owen Smith created the Facebook group “Protest Dining Service’s Trayless Initiative,” through which Dramstad advertised his tray sale. Currently, the group has 70 members at UD, and Smith is trying to organize a protest in which a group of 30 students will use their personal trays in the cafeteria.

In a post on the group’s Facebook page, Smith says the university is “putting a bandaid” on environmental problems and the school is only marginally decreasing waste.

“I did some math and assuming 5,000 people eat in the dining hall twice per day and use a tray each time, the school will be saving only 0.3 percent of it’s overall water consumption,” Smith said. “A rough estimate I made with irrigation of the green uses 2.3 percent.”

Smith and Dramstad also complained that trayless dining leads to more spills and dirty tables.

“We went to [the dining hall on the campus] a couple nights ago and every table was just disgusting,” Dramstad told The Review.

Aramark says that trayless efforts have successfully reduced food waste at other universities and has not previously met resistance. UD does not plan to reverse the program.

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