Trayless dining: Colleges jump on board new idea to reduce waste, increase efficiency of meals

A thing of the past?: More and more colleges are moving away from serving up dorm meals on food trays to reduce waste and clean-up costs.
A thing of the past?: More and more colleges are moving away from serving up dorm meals on food trays to reduce waste and clean-up costs.Courtesy bookgrl
College is a place to learn new things. And at several Minnesota campuses this school year, students are learning new things in the dining hall along with in the classroom – like how to balance all their dinner items without using a tray.

A month into the school year, the reviews are mixed on this concept. This Star Tribune story gives the full round up on the tray-less dining phenomenon. Five Minnesota schools have gone totally trayless – the University of Minnesota, Hamline, Concordia-St. Paul, and Southwest Minnesota State, Marshall. Three other schools are trayless at least one day a week. Three other schools are considering following these leads.

Why do this? Saving food waste and expense is a big part of it. At Hamline, they estimate that smaller carrying capacity of a diner without a tray saves 12 cents a meal per student. Totaled up among all diners for an entire school year, and that savings will be $25,000 for a school year.

Plus, there’s less room for “eyes bigger than stomachs” action without trays. While thrown out food last year at Hamline filled two garbage cans per meal, this year without trays there’s just one garbage can full of food waste per meal.

Also, no trays reduces the amount of water and soap needed to clean trays and extra dishes with the smaller portions that students are eating.

But not everyone is happy.

Some students are stacking their servings three plates high. One University of Minnesota student upset with the idea has started an online protest group through his Facebook page.

So what do you think? Is this a good idea or taking efficiency too far? Share your thoughts here with other Buzz readers.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

A match keel kiwi's picture
A match keel kiwi says:

As a college student who has experienced trayless dining (u of i, there's one trayless dining hall). I have concluded that this is a great idea. With trays I tend to want to get more, prehaps mostly just to fill up a sad looking tray. Without trays, I grab one plate full of food. I fill it up, sit down, eat, and when i'm done i wonder, could i eat another plate of food? how much could i eat?

I have a little bit of the starving kids in india complex and need to finish my food too. so i feel guilty when i throw it away.

Even if you're eating less, I don't see the problem, America is so concerned about obesity but the second this happens, like 80% of people are pissed.

posted on Wed, 10/01/2008 - 6:49am
young reese's picture
young reese says:

i havn't got a chance to read this one but i know its good

posted on Wed, 10/01/2008 - 3:43pm
Miss Daisy's picture
Miss Daisy says:


posted on Wed, 10/01/2008 - 4:10pm
young reese's picture
young reese says:

hey folks all mess aside these articles go hard

posted on Wed, 10/01/2008 - 4:11pm
Miss Daisy's picture
Miss Daisy says:

I feel this is a great idea, because there's so many benefits to it. It helps you think more about what you eat, and if you decide you would like more you can get more. Plus it really saves on time, labor, and money - which is great!

posted on Wed, 10/01/2008 - 4:11pm

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