GREENVILLE, PA – When the Thiel College football team arrives back on campus on August 13, they’ll notice something different in the college’s cafeteria—an absence of trays. As part of its commitment to sustainability and green living, Thiel College and its food service partner, AVI Foodsystems Inc., are going “trayless” for the 2008–09 academic year.
This new initiative is aimed at reducing food waste, reducing the amount of water used in cleaning trays (each tray requires 1/2 gallon of water to properly sanitize) and bringing more efficiency to AVI’s food service operation at Thiel.
“This is a win-win situation for Thiel and AVI,” says Bill Beil, vice president for auxiliary services and chief technology officer at Thiel. “By reducing waste, AVI will be able to add more specialty items to the menu, which will in turn enhance the dining experience for our students. Both AVI and Thiel will reduce operating costs while greening our dining operation.”
There are no restrictions on the number of trips that each student can make to the cafeteria’s food stations, says Beil. They’ll just have to do it one plate at a time, reducing the amount of food that is taken and not eaten. Thiel and AVI hope to save 150,000 gallons of water, cut the use of cleaning chemicals by 400 pounds and reduce food waste by 30 percent this year. The college is currently looking into several possibilities regarding the future of its old dining trays, which are fiberglass and cannot be easily recycled.
In addition to phasing out trays, AVI and Thiel will be introducing a 20-ounce refillable travel mug to campus. This free mug will be distributed to all students and employees and can be used when drinking beverages in the cafeteria or filled up at the Rotunda Bistro for a discounted price. AVI and Thiel hope that the new refillable mug will cut down both on the number of disposable cups that end up in the trash and the number of glasses that must be washed after every meal.
AVI approached Thiel about the new “trayless” initiative after successfully implementing it at several of its other educational partners, including Alfred University and Kenyon College. Thanks to rising energy and food costs, trayless dining has become a national trend.
“Part of what we teach here at Thiel is global sustainability,” says Beil. “We try to practice what we teach and encourage our students to develop good habits that benefit our world.”