Make the green reusable food containers at the dining hall a choice, not a requirement.

Make the green reusable food containers at the dining hall a choice, not a requirement.

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Josie Stephens started this petition to Aramark and

Last semester, the green reusable food containers were a choice. You could either use that system, or you could use throw-away, one-use containers that the dining hall workers would hand to you after putting your food in it. Now, the dining halls have eliminated the choice aspect, and they are making everyone use the reusable containers.

The concept of reusable containers is a great one because it is helping to reduce waste. However, there are many downsides to the reusable system that I will list shortly. The people who don't mind the downsides and would like to reduce their waste should continue to have the option to do so (like how it was last semester), and they should be applauded for their contribution to reducing waste.

This system has only been in place for a few days, and I am already experiencing all of these downsides:

  • You have to go to your dorm before you go to the dining hall.
    • Let's say I am walking back from my in-person class which is all the way across campus from my dorm, and I would like to stop for a bite at a dining hall before I head to my next class. Now, I can't do that. I have to walk all the way back to my dorm to retrieve my old reusable container before I am able to go to a dining hall to eat. Not only is this extremely inconvenient, but I might not even have enough time to do all that walking and eat a meal before my next class starts.
  • You have to go to your dorm after you go to the dining hall.
    • Similar to the last point, if I am stopping for a bite to eat before class, I am forced to walk back to my dorm (which could be all the way across campus) to put away the reusable container (unless I am going to bring the reusable container to class with me which is gross because there are food remnants in it).
  • We are paying for all-you-can-eat dining, and this is limiting.
    • When I asked what I am supposed to do if not all of my food fits into this one container, the person responded that one container is all we get and that's just how it is. So we should either get reduced pricing because it is not longer truly all-you-can-eat, or we should be able to get as many containers as we need to fit our food.
  • Covid concerns.
    • In the old system, the dining hall workers would make your food and then put the food directly into your box, and then hand the box to you. However, with the new system, they put the food into your container which you hold. Today, I got a burger, and the dining hall worker couldn't reach far enough across the counter, so she put the burger in my hand. I had not yet washed my hands, so now my food could possibly be contaminated. In the old system, I wouldn't have been touching my food until after I've had the chance to sanitize. 
    • Last semester, we were instructed not to congregate within the food area, which makes sense considering covid. However, now with the new system, we are sometimes being forced to congregate for minutes as we wait for new reusable containers to be available.
    • Sometimes when we receive the reusable containers, remnants of food are still in them even though they have supposedly gone through a sanitation process. Even if covid weren't an issue, this is gross and unsanitary.
  • All the food is squished together and touching each other.
    • Although this is probably one of the least important points on this list, it is still a valid concern because it diminishes the dining experience that we are paying for. For example, today I got spaghetti and meatballs but I also wanted a burger, quesadillas, and fries. If I were to have done that, I would have had to put my burger, quesadillas, and fries on top of the spaghetti sauce. The sauce would get all over my food which is not only gross, but it is also extremely messy considering they are finger foods.

We ask that the reusable containers continue to be a choice, not a requirement.

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