This summer will mark the beginning of the end for dining hall trays at Ohio University, as the campus attempts to reign in unnecessary food and water waste.
According to a report from The Post Athens, the university conducted a study of its Nelson Dining Hall in the spring of 2016 and found that 0.33 gallons of water are used to wash each tray, while a food waste education project the same semester revealed 71% of students use the trays. Moreover, Ohio reports serving almost 2 million meals on its campus last year, meaning the removal of dining hall trays could save as much as 440,000 gallons of water each year.
“The Nelson Court study found that when trays were removed, 4.7 pounds less food per 100 students were wasted,” said university spokesman, James Sabin, in an email to The Post Athens. “Using the same 1,881,751 meals served last year number, that translates into 88,442 pounds less food wasted.”
The removal of dining hall trays is anything but a new idea, with campuses across the country eliminating them from dining operations for years. The reasons for ditching the trays often goes beyond dollars and cents, highlighting the power of green campus initiatives.
At Ohio, the university’s Culinary Services Student Advisory Committee (CSDC), student focus groups and and the university’s Office of Sustainability were behind the request for Culinary Services go trayless, Sabin said in the email. “This fits perfectly with the University Sustainability initiative and has the support of CSDC.”
Still, there are holdouts, and in the near term Ohio will keep a small number of trays just in case. The university says that a small number of trays will be kept and be made available only by request. Ohio currently deploys roughly 1,000 trays in each of its dining halls, with each tray costing about $10.