Styrofoam replaced by clamshells in student center cafeteria

Reusable to-go containers will soon be available in more than just the dormitory cafeterias. Now the student center dining room will also be a part of the program.

“We want to start this after Spring Break so we have a plan in place for picking up the used containers,” said Ron Gibson, Director of Food Services.

Students can use their reusable to-go containers, or clamshells, in the student center dining room, but the system of returning one and getting another or a token is not in place there.

“People do ask about the to-go containers sometimes,” said Michelle Powell, a staff member in the student center dining hall. “I tell students they can bring them in and fill them up, but we just can’t exchange them here like they can in the dorms.”

Sophomore psychology major Andrew Gillen, who helped start the program in the dorm cafeterias, said he plans on using his clamshell in the student center dining hall.

“I will definitely use my [reusable] to-go container here,” he said. “I’m glad to see they are extending the program to the student center dining hall.”

While the to-go containers are making an impact in some parts of the building, not all food services in the student center will have the clamshell option.

“They will be using the [same] re-usable to go containers we use in the residential dining operations,” said Gibson. “To-go container use is being extended to the student center dining room only at this time.”

To-go containers are not the only new option that may be available at the student center dining hall.

“I am working with the company now that makes [the clamshells] on getting glasses and soup bowls as well,” said Gibson.

The clamshells will also be beneficial to faculty and community members who eat in the student center dining hall.

“A lot of staff eat here, like secretaries and groundskeepers,” Powell said. “Many times they will come in and take their food to-go so they can get back to their offices. A lot of times people come in off the street to eat because of the bus station outside.”

As for getting faculty and staff involved in the effort to reduce waste, Gibson said, “Hopefully they understand the need for sustainability as the students have.”

The transition is meant to be relatively simple and should have no effect on customers’ wallets, even though there is an initial cost of getting a to-go container.

“If everyone uses the program in the way it is intended there is no cost to the consumer,” Gibson said. “You pay one time and as long as we get a token or container back each time, there are no more charges. Plus at the end of each year if your account is in good standing, there is a credit issued for your money back.”