Trayless Tuesday

Yesterday, I trekked up to Maine to see the traylessness facilitated by Bon Appetit at Saint Joseph’s College. As anyone who’s read this blog before would guess, I was enthralled by the approach to food there.

One of the subtleties I hadn’t considered was the way students approach their meals. From what I saw and heard, many students will browse through the options while taking a salad or first plate. Then they’ll discuss what they’re having with their table mates, possibly sharing a little. It felt more like a social gathering with a buffet than a school cafeteria.

Of course, not everyone takes that approach. The system favors those with experience waiting tables. Balancing two plates in one hand is quite doable for those who’ve worked in restaurants.

the only trays at St. Joseph's College are in the dish area.After speaking with several students, the attitudes ranged from tolerant to supportive. It’s no surprise that there isn’t much opposition there, since nary a tray has been seen since school opened in the Fall of 2007. Well, there are trays one place–in the dish return area made to accommodate them.

In addition, diners with disabilities, on crutches, etc. can ask for a tray as they enter the cafeteria. But I didn’t see one during my entire visit. Nor did I see much waste. Sure, there was some, but nowhere near what I’ve seen at other schools (like Reed College, where an entire population of students subsists off of the excess.)

For anyone thinking of implementing traylessness at their school, Stuart Leckie, the man who came up with the idea, has two tips:

1. Do it at the beginning of the school year. That way you minimize the number of students who are accustomed to having trays.
2. Be resolute. There will be some gripes, but if students realize they won’t change the system (and how righteous can one be in fighting for the cause of convenience?) their complaints will wither.

This entry was posted in Trayless. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.