Who says helping the environment is expensive? It’s been one year since PSU, along with its dining contractor Sodexo, made the decision to go trayless in Prospect Hall, the main campus dining facility. The change has been a rousing success, with nearly $160,000 savings and a reduction of 35 tons of food in the past year.
In short, going trayless in the dining hall means the students carry food on plates only, rather than using trays, which can encourage taking more food than needed. The hope was to reduce waste and save unnecessary costs while educating the student body about making smarter and healthier food choices in the dining hall. Chris Mongeon, Sodexo’s general manager of dining services at Plymouth State, said the decision to go trayless has been an overwhelming success.
“The trayless program has allowed us to promote our sustainability efforts, reduce food waste and educate the students,” Mongeon said. “As it happens, this program also reduces costs in food and utilities, so it is really a win-win situation for everyone.”
When compared to the previous two semesters using trays, PSU has determined the average meal cost, on average, of the approximate 500,000 meals served was reduced from $2.61 to $2.40, a savings of more than $110,000. When other cost factors like electricity, propane, water, sewer and chemicals are factored in for food preparation, dish washing and disposal, the cost savings from going trayless add up to $159,918.
Additionally, benefits include less waste going to the landfill; less dishware breakage; and fewer food deliveries to campus helping to lower PSU’s carbon footprint.
PSU’s Special Assistant to the President for Environmental Sustainability William Crangle said the change to trayless meals was a good one from several viewpoints.
“The cooperative effort we received from student government and the Sodexo staff in making the original decision helped to make the transition easier,” Crangle said. “The positive results of the program included a significant reduction in food waste, energy consumption and water savings, which helped the University take a step forward towards its overall goal of carbon neutrality.”
Many of the nation’s 4,000 colleges and universities will cut trays from their dining services within the next five years, estimates Julian Dautremont-Smith, associate director of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.
For more information about this release, contact Bruce Lyndes, PSU Media Relations Mgr., (603) 535-2775 or Bruce Lyndes