Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 5
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Bon Appetit considers going trayless

Bon Appétit Management Co., Whitman’s food services provider, may no longer provide trays in the dining halls in an effort to be more environmentally friendly and make students more aware of the quantity of food they eat.

“Bon Appétit is trying to look for ways to reduce our carbon imprint,” Prentiss Resident Dining Manager Susan Todhunter said. “Eliminating trays does several important things: it tends to reduce waste because [students] don’t take as much food initially and it reduces the amount of water and soap we use when cleaning.”

Coincidently, the Water Campaign, an outreach group of Whitman College Campus Greens, recently conducted a voluntary student survey that asked whether students would “support the restriction of access to trays in Whitman’s dining halls.”

“Karlis Rokpelnis, the sustainability coordinator, suggested that Bon Appétit was curious about the idea, but were hesitant about student support,” Water Campaign head Tyler Harvey, ’10, said. “We decided that the best way to go about gauging student support was to conduct a survey.”

Of the 200 respondents, nearly 92 percent said they would either support or strongly support a measure restricting access to dining hall trays while a mere 6.5 percent said they opposed or strongly opposed any such measure.

On behalf of the Water Campaign and Whitman students, Harvey wrote a letter of support that outlined the results of the survey, addressed student concerns and proposed restricting access to trays in the dining hall that will be formally submitted to Bon Appétit sometime next week.
“There is a very long history of Bon Appétit being responsive to student demands,” Rokpelnis said. “I expect that there might be certain things that they will have to look into and think about, but I do think it will work out.”

Though Todhunter has yet to officially receive the letter, she believes the Water Campaign “approached [the issue] the right way.”

“It’s the right way to go from an environmental, waste, and water- and soap-usage standpoints,” Todhunter said. “If we can pull it off here, I think it would be a good plan.”

Both Rokpelnis and Todhunter see plans instituted by other colleges and universities as a model Whitman should emulate.

“At Clark University (in Worcester, Mass.) their slogan was ‘Lose the Freshman 15,’ meaning ‘eat as much as you want, as opposed to as much as you put on your tray,'” Rokpelnis said. “Going trayless is a trend right now… We need to look at how other schools have done this, but it’s really about seeing whether Bon Appétit can do it.”

“Some colleges have tried a ‘Trayless Tuesday’ where they eliminate trays just one day a week,” Todhunter said. “And if they received a lot of negative feedback then they would just return the trays to students.”

Todhunter, however, is uneasy when predicting what will happen at Whitman since most of the institutions surveyed had substantially larger student population. She said that Bon Appétit has not yet attempted to calculate how much water they will save from not having to wash trays.

If Bon Appétit accepts the proposal, Todhunter said trays could be restricted “right away, next semester, or next fall.” It all depends on how discussions go between the food services, the Water Campaign and students, she said.

Harvey did not explicitly say in the letter how quickly he thinks the plan should be enacted. However, he hopes that with Bon Appétit’s cooperation trays could be restricted as early as Thanksgiving break or the beginning of spring semester.

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