Dishes Return at Frank Dining Hall

Frank Dining Hall’s dishwasher, which had been “non-operational” for over two weeks, was fixed just before dinner on Tuesday, allowing students to once again use the more sustainable washable plates.The dishwasher, which is more than 30 years old, stopped working when the belt that carries the plates through water broke. As Pomona’s General Manager of Dining Services David Janosky said, replacing this belt took much more time than was originally anticipated.“The only [way] we could fix the machine is to get a new belt… Because [the machine] is so old, the new belt had to be specially made back East in Pennsylvania,” he said. “We had to wait for them to get the parts produced and shipped out, which took three more days.”While the new belt was being built, students were forced to use biodegradable plates and silverware when they ate at Frank.Consequently, the dining hall produced a large amount of food and paper waste over the two weeks.Although this waste was not ideal, Janosky said it was also unavoidable.“There are obvious negative environmental consequences to [using non-reusable plates and silverware] but, unfortunately, it was unavoidable,” he said.Bowen Close, the director of the Sustainability Integration Office, echoed Janosky’s claim.“The amount of waste [produced] was significant, but there really is no way around using that disposable stuff when the dishwasher is broken,” Close said.Close was also pleased that the school was able to provide biodegradable plates and silverware the entire time the dishwasher was down.“Because the dishwasher will break or some equipment will break once in a while, and in the past, we didn’t have enough of the biodegradable stuff to use, we had to go to the normal plastic and paper which is non-biodegradable,” she said. “This year is better, in that sense, than it was in the past.”Although it was not an option this time due to time constraints, Close did say it would be preferable to compost the food and plates rather than simply throwing them away. One more environmentally-friendly approach, which Close mentioned, would have been to compost all the food waste.“We talked about composting all the stuff, all of the food waste and biodegradable plates and silverware, and everything that is being thrown away,” she said. “What that would entail is collecting all the material and bringing it down to the farm where they would chip it and then compost it,” Close said.Unfortunately, the school was unable to organize this project in the short amount of time it had from when the dishwasher broke down to when the food would have to be composted.“We weren’t able to coordinate in time, this time, but the farm is on board to do that, we just need to figure out some of the detail,” Close said. “Hopefully, we’ll work on that so we’re ready to go and have a plan for the next time the dishwasher breaks.”Despite the clear environmental waste that was produced, both Close and Janosky noted that Pomona students, who are often the first to point out anything that could potentially damage the environment, were very understanding.“Usually I get a lot of emails when something like this happens,” Close said. “But this time I think [Frank Dining Hall] was pretty good about putting up signs so the students were pretty understanding.”Janosky was very appreciative of how understanding students were. “The students were very understanding and thankfully very patient,” he said. “We’ve got a great student population who’s been very understanding, and I really appreciate that, and my staff really appreciates that. ”In spite of the mishap, the school has decided not to replace the 30-year-old washing machine. Janosky is confident that, with the new belt in place, the machine should return to working as well as it has without any more complications.When asked if he thought the machine could break down again, Janosky quickly replied, “It better not.”

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