By Maggie Collett
Staff reporter

A meal in the cafeteria is usually pretty consistent. Grab a tray, fill a few plates with whatever looks good, sit down to eat, and then return the tray and dirty dishes. But Tuesdays have looked a little different for the cafeteria. The three weeks leading up to Spring Break have been named Trayless Tuesdays.

Jason Speegle, Green Team director, sees the benefits of going trayless. “It’s from an environmental standpoint that savings are going to occur,” said Speegle.

A 2008 trayless experiment in the SC cafeteria showed that 17,717 pounds of food are wasted per year when trays are used. When trays are taken away, that number drops by 5,413 pounds.

“That doesn’t take into account the detergent and the energy and the labor cost to wash all [the trays],” said Speegle. 17,615 gallons of water could be saved annually. Not only would going trayless cut back on food waste, it would also save on water costs.

Although the environmental savings look good, Speegle doesn’t want to take a huge jump without first consulting the students. “We want to make sure the majority of students understand why we’re making the change and are on board with it,” said Speegle. In order to better understand the student body’s opinion, Green Team teamed up with student government association (SGA).

Caitlin McCurdy, psychology junior, is SGA president. “We’re the voice of the students,” said McCurdy. “I feel like [students are] unhappy because [they] don’t understand what it means not only for the school and environment but personally. Giving up your tray to save $100? It’s a matter of making [students] understand how it’s going to affect them personally. That’s why we’re trying.”

Harold Harris, director of food services, said things are running as usual behind the scenes. “With the way we’re doing it, the change has not been very much. It’s a change for the students,” said Harris.

Trayless Tuesdays will run every Tuesday until Spring Break. A panel is scheduled March 8 for students to ask questions during cafeteria hours. A quiz with questions relating to going trayless will also be conducted. Green Team, SGA, and Sodexo prizes will be given away. The following Wednesday an online survey will be sent out where students can give feedback.

Trayless Tuesdays might come as a shock to some but mostly they have been welcomed with open arms. McCurdy said, “There were no riots over lunch at least.”

Maggie Collett is a freshman majoring in communication. You may e-mail her at

Edited by Inger Furholt.

For student reaction view this video: