Dining Halls Aim to Eliminate Waste

In an attempt to make Pomona more sustainable and cost-effective, a number of changes have been made at the dining halls, including the introduction of reusable take-out containers and the removal of trays.

The changes will save $460,000 over the course of the coming year, according to Pomona dining services.

The Office of Campus Life (OCL) gave each student a plastic container at the beginning of the semester in order to reduce the number of Styrofoam boxes students take from the dining halls. Students who did not receive a container from OCL before the Sept. 15 deadline are required to pay $3 for their boxes, as are students who lose their containers. Disposable Styrofoam boxes are still available, but cost 50 cents each.

“It’s a good system,” said Scott Jespersen PO ‘12. “I appreciate the change to reusable containers. We all worried at the end of last year that there would only be the 50-cent containers, and you can still get those, but this discourages waste.”

Although all Claremont Colleges now offer reusable containers, Pomona’s green containers come from the food supplier Sodexo’s “Green with Envy” program.

“The changes in the disposable boxes were implemented to help cover the costs associated with take-out, and the reusable boxes were designed to give students a more sustainable option,” said Dining Services General Manager David Janosky via e-mail.

Pomona’s containers are the smallest, but cost half as much as those used by Scripps, the largest among the 5Cs. According to Dean of Students Miriam Feldblum, the differences in container type between the 5Cs is due to a lack of coordination between the different colleges.

Although the new system has been received well, some confusion still exists about how it works, according to dining hall worker Elisea Mendoza.

“Some students don’t know what to do,” Mendoza said. “They don’t know how they get another one. One student walked into Frary, got dinner and forgot to ask for another box. I had to charge him $3 for a new one.”

Used containers must be returned to the dining halls in exchange for clean ones. The dirty containers are washed by the dining hall staff then brought back to the front to be exchanged again.

“The styrofoam made a lot of trash,” Mendoza said. “It was too much trash in the dorms. [Students] would throw away food and there would be ants.”

A second major change at dining halls this year is the elimination of trays. Students must now carry individual plates and cups to tables, a move that Janosky said is more sustainable and will reduce food waste.

“It makes me eat less,” Jespersen said. “It makes people burn a few extra calories going back for seconds.”

Student groups are currently conducting studies to find out how much eliminating trays helps the environment. According to the Sodexo Web site, removing trays from campus dining halls leads to a reduction of one ounce of food per plate. It also saves thousands of gallons of detergent and water, and hundreds of dollars in energy per day.

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