Earth We Are pushes for trayless cafeteria

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Trayless Cafeteria:Freshmen Jasmine Heinson, left, and Kesha Surrell stand in line with their trays for dinner in the cafeteria Wednesday night. After the inception of Trayless Thursdays last year, Earth We Are is pushing to make every day ?trayless? in an effort to conserve water and save the university money.:Emily Hink

The cafeteria is one step closer to going trayless after student senate voted to support Earth We Are's initiative to remove trays from the cafeteria.

While student senate will not take part in implementing the plan, Earth We Are President Justine Greve said she hopes student senate's endorsement will show the group has student support and help promote the project.

"We've decided we want to try to promote going trayless entirely and not just once a week," Greve said. "We still need to get the students on board with this. We have to get more of the campus involved since it involves a big change in the cafeteria."

Last spring, the cafeteria removed the trays for one meal a week, and some students protested by bending silverware and leaving hateful notes on comment cards, but Greve said despite the adverse reactions of some students, a majority found the lack of trays to be no inconvenience or only a minor inconvenience.

"If we educate people and tell them about it, it might not be such a big deal to them," Greve said. "Having no trays every day, people might stop seeing it as an inconvenience and start seeing it as something normal."

Sophomore Iliana Krehbiel, an EWA member who is particularly interested in sustainability, said some students argue that Baker's expensive tuition bill should allow them to be able to use something as simple as trays.

"If they care about Baker, and they care about the money they're paying, they'd be willing to make the sacrifice," Krehbiel said. "If Baker is needing to make budget cuts, this is one of the best places to be doing it. In the long term, maybe they can cut meal plans or tuition. It's a really silly attitude to take. If you look at the numbers and how it helps Baker, it's benefiting everyone."

Last year, EWA recorded waste and water usage with and without trays, finding that nearly 70 gallons of water and 40 pounds of food could be saved during one meal without trays.

Catering Coordinator Tanya Sieber said she was glad the trayless initiative had student support, but she doubts the feasibility of going completely trayless with the cafeteria layout.

"I'm really hesitant to enforce an entirely trayless system when the cafeteria is centered around the idea of a tray," Sieber said.

She thinks a more realistic approach is going trayless once a week beginning next semester and removing them entirely when the cafeteria is renovated. Sieber said the cafeteria renovation project is one of the projects that did not get cut in the recent budget cut and still is on track to begin in the next fiscal year. She said with a new cafeteria layout more conducive to going without trays, the transition would be less inconvenient for students.

Another consideration in going trayless is the recently purchased trays sponsored by Baldwin State Bank.

"The last set lasted for 15 years, and these are expected to last about the same time," Sieber said. "When they did this, they thought they were buying long-term and effective advertising."

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