After two years of “Trayless Tuesdays,” Central Market took the plunge and began trayless dining every day of the week. Technically speaking, trays are still available, but they’re much smaller. Students and other diners can either choose the bright Fiesta plates or place their food directly on the smaller trays. “The change will help bring dining services into a more sustainable environment and better mirror the sustainable policies of Central College,” says Mark Howard, director of dining services.
A study by Aramark Higher Education found that going trayless can decrease food waste per person by 25 to 30 percent. Jim Zaffiro, professor of political science and SUSTAIN coordinator, says that, based on national estimates, Central could save around 20 percent of its food budget, not to mention the water and electricity savings from washing fewer dishes and trays.
The decision to go trayless permanently wasn’t an easy one. Administrators were worried about how students would react, but so far there have been few complaints and much understanding. The financial savings was an impetus for the change, but Zaffiro says the decision was about more than that. “It’s the right thing to do—ethically, environmentally and economically.”