NWU Dining Hall Goes Green By Going Trayless

Something familiar will be missing from Nebraska Wesleyan University’s dining hall next fall.

In an effort to save energy and discourage food waste, Nebraska Wesleyan’s dining hall will go trayless.

It’s an initiative that the university’s student organization Environmental Action has worked diligently on for the past two years. Students were first introduced to the concept with “Trayless Tuesdays.” Each Tuesday, students eating in the dining hall learned new habits of taking only the food that they were going to eat. It resulted in less food waste, less energy consumed and less water used, said Environmental Action co-president Samantha Wessels.

“This has been an important issue for Environmental Action,” said Wessels, “Our organization’s mission is to promote sustainability and that is exactly what trayless is all about.”

This spring, Environmental Action sought student body input by educating the campus on the impact of trayless dining everyday — not just Tuesday — and surveying students to hear praises and concerns.

“Take the trays away,” one student noted in the survey, “It’s environmentally friendly and students don’t need them. If they are gone before the next first year class comes in, they will not have the opportunity to miss them.”

Wessels said total trayless dining will save 80 gallons of water each day because trays will not need to be washed. They also expect a 50 percent decrease in wasted food because students are less likely to pick up an entrée that they only intend to taste test. Other benefits include an overall decrease in caloric intake and an opportunity for NWU students to leave an imprint on the environment, she said.

For two years, Environmental Action worked closely with Sodexo Inc., NWU’s food service provider, and NWU general manager, Joanna Helbusch, who was “very supportive throughout this initiative,” said Wessels. Several Sodexo campuses around the country have implemented the same change.

In May, the Student Affairs Senate gave its stamp of approval to trayless dining as well.

Trayless dining will go in affect when classes resume in August.

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