• Fri, Feb 18 2011

Colleges Crack Down On Cafeteria Trays To Avoid Creating Campus Fatties

In the latest non-intuitive bid to save the environment, colleges across the country are cracking down on the use of food trays in cafeterias. Apparently maintaining and washing the trays consumes a lot of soap and water. Also, college kids load up trays with more food – and waste – when trays are used.

Which leads me to believe college are simply doing this to have fewer fatties on their campuses. Let’s take a look at the evidence.

According to The Washington Post:

“When Virginia Tech’s largest dining hall reopened several years ago, some administrators jokingly dubbed it the “freshman 25″ cafeteria, for the number of pounds some students might gain from the tasty fare.”

That’s the opening sentence of this article. And sure, there are some environmental reasons for the shift:

“It started as an Earth Week experiment during the 2008 spring semester, when student volunteers weighed the amount of food waste in dining halls with and without trays. Without trays, students wasted 38 percent less food. By summer, the trays were gone in the two main dining halls on campus, D2 and Shultz.”

But eating on an unlimited meal plan is usually the reason for that infamous “Freshman 15.” And a few quotes from the article prove that kids stuff their faces in cafeterias:

“When I go to D2, my goal is to eat as much as possible,” said Shamy, now a junior majoring in public and urban affairs. Without a tray, “you can only get one plate and a cup.”

That’s one way to get your student body to lose weight, colleges. But let’s not pretend that this is just an environmental decision. Less waste in the cafeteria also means less food being purchased, and less cost to the school. But that’s not the way it’s being sold. Yup, sold:

“Going trayless is usually sold to students as an environmental move. Less water, soap and electricity is used if there are no trays to wash, and less food is wasted.”

Colleges like Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, James Madison and Marymount universities and the University of Virginia have already ditched cafeteria trays, and more are moving in this direction. Which is great for their bottom line, and probably the weight of their students.

But if colleges were really serious about using less water, soap and electricity, they could just tell kids to take fewer showers. That would be so easy and already in line with the way college kids act anyway!

(Photo by Grist)

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