Increasingly, colleges and universities are eliminating dining hall trays to cut down on food waste. Happily, it’s become hard darn near impossible to keep up with trayless schools, but here’s an incomplete list of who’s doing what:

St. Joseph’s College (ME)–Started the whole thing (blog)

Colby College (ME)–”Trayless Thursdays” for the last few years

Northwood University (FL)–Trayless since Fall 2006

San Francisco State (CA)–eliminated trays (blog)

Middlebury College (VT)–Trayless since Fall 2007

University of Central Oklahoma–Trayless for October, 2007 (blog)

Tulane University (LA)–Every meal, every day, starting in 2008

Alfred University (NY)–Trayless across campus, starting in 2008

UC Santa Cruz (CA)–One day, Jan. 29, 2008

Harvard (MA)–One dining hall, four nights in February, 2008 (blog)

University of Connecticut–One dining hall in February, 2008 (blog)

Morrisville State College (NY)–Optional for February, 2008 (blog)

Ohio University–Experimented with it, February, 2008 (blog)

San Diego State (CA)–Fridays starting in March, 2008

Columbia University (NY)–weekly pilot program, spring semester, 2008

Williams College (MA)–weekly program, started March, 2008 (blog)

University of New Hampshire–weekly program, spring semester, 2008

Elon College (NC)–Trayless across campus, February, 2008

Palm Beach University (FL)–trayless campus, gave away trays.

University of Florida–one-week experiment, April 2008

William & Mary (VA)–trayless experiment, spring 2008

Wartburg College (IA)–one week experiment, March-April 2008

University of Alaska Fairbanks–one week experiment, March 2008

University of Montana–Missoula–pilot project, April 2008

Virginia Tech–one-week experiment, April 2008

University of Kansas–Earth Day trial, April 2008

Drexel University (PA)–”Trayless Tuesdays,” started April 2008

Western Washington University–Earth week experiment, April 2008

Luther College (IA)–Trayless Week, April 2008

East Carolina University (NC)–August 2008

University of Minnesota–September 2008

University of Vermont–September 2008

Mount Mercy College (IA)–September 2008

University of Pennsylvania–September 2008 (confirmed in person!)

I’ve heard that these schools have gone trayless, but I can’t find links:

Dartmouth College (NH)

Skidmore College (NY)

Evergreen State College (WA)

NOTE: Happily, due to the volume of schools that have gone trayless, I’m unable to keep up. Consider it a continuing success story for reducing food waste!


  1. Judy
    Posted May 6, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Here at Kean University in the state of New Jersey we have an anerobic composter on campus in a greenhouse which has volunteers that turn a lot of the food scraps from on campus into compost which we give to a local farm that sells crops to our resturant on East Campus – Ursino. This restaurant uses local produce on it’s menu and the food scraps from there come back to our composter ^^

  2. Tulasi Lovell
    Posted May 15, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    You can add University of California, Riverside to this list. :)

  3. Amber
    Posted March 1, 2013 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    You can add Millersville University , PA to the list. None of our dining halls have trays !

  4. Joanne Galloway
    Posted March 1, 2013 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    Lake Superior State University went trayless Sept 2012

5 Trackbacks

  1. By Jack on May 7, 2008 at 5:03 am

    Nice Site. Keep up the good work….

  2. [...] It’s big news these days. From colleges cafeterias going trayless, to food banks receiving, (or not receiving) the leftovers from big events. [...]

  3. By Blogs With Bite « NotionsCapital on January 20, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    [...] Wasted Food – Johnathan Bloom blogs about American food waste and ways to avoid it. 40 percent of USA food raised for consumption is wasted — overlooked by mechanical harvesters, “culled” by packers, wholesalers and supermarkets because of visual imperfections and bad packaging, left to rot in our refrigerators. some remedies: Glean, recover food and donate unused eats, go trayless, shop and eat better. [...]

  4. [...] establishments that are currently tray-free and choosing to compost leftover food scraps include the University of Michigan, Northwestern [...]

  5. [...] sizes at buffets and receptions. Jonathan Bloom has a page dedicated to tracking the results of eliminating food trays in college dining halls and the impact it has had on reducing food waste. Another relevant study [...]

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