TC cafeteria going tray-less to save money, resources


Amanda Wann (above), a junior at Tabor College, adds to her salad while balance her plate at the same time. Wann said she is learning to improvise when dealing with the tray-less cafeteria. ?I either go back and forth through the line or when I eat soup and salad, I use the plate to carry the soup bowl.? Mary Bostic, the college cafeteria manager, said it could take a few years for students to get used to the idea, but it has cut down on food waste.

Because consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the impact their actions make on the environment, the phrase ?going green? has become a popular verb for ?environmentally safe.?

In turn, Tabor College cafeteria manager Mary Bostic has decided to stop the use of trays in order to save money, prevent waste and take responsibility for the cafeteria?s actions to go green.

That is, if you don?t count the missing green tray.

Students returning to Tabor?s campus this fall found that the cafeteria was tray-less.

This change was opposite of the original plan, which was to order brand new trays, said Bostic, who has been managing the cafeteria for Pioneer College Caterers Inc. for five years.

Tabor College President Jules Glanzer noticed the trays in the cafeteria were the same trays he used when he was a student here, Bostic said. However, she found new trays could cost as much as $5,000.

About the same time, Bostic came across a USA Today article that reported more than 30 percent of colleges across the nation had decided to go tray-less.

?This is crazy,? Bostic said of her initial reaction to the story. ?I don?t want to do this.?

But she sent the article to Glanzer, who passed it on to other college administrators.

?Everyone supported (going tray-less),? Bostic said, ?so we decided to go with it.

?There will be positive things I think you?ll notice by us managing the kitchen in a different way.?

Bostic is no stranger to working a large kitchen. She was employed by PCC at Mount Vernon Nazarene University in Ohio before her daughter Hannah was born.

She took a five-year break before joining PCC again in 2003 when the Tabor food service manager quit just before the fall semester.

?I serve two masters,? Bostic said, referring to Tabor and PCC.

PCC, a contract food service company based in Lenexa and Nashville, Tenn., furnishes cafeterias at 50 Christian-based colleges and universities.

?We would cater in a canoe at the Marion Reservoir if (Tabor) asked us to,? Bostic said.

This year, the cafeteria is also beginning to cater to the environment. Water and energy conservation and less food waste are the major ways that going tray-less will help benefit the environment, Bostic said.

She noted that while food prices have increased 7 percent, campus food consumption has also increased because of the continuously open cafeteria and the large freshman class.

But without trays, students don?t pile on as much food they won?t eat while going through the line.

?It?s going to take a few years for people to get used to it, but it really cuts back on our waste,? Bostic said. ?It really hasn?t been as much as a problem as I thought it would be.?

The choice to go tray-less this year with the large freshman class was a smart move, Bostic said. However, some returning students seem to be feeling a little bit of a loss.

The missing legendary green tray, a staple piece of campus lore believed to bring good dating luck, has some students concerned.

But some ideas are in the works for students who are worried about help in their love lives.

?I?m in the search for a green plate,? Bostic said.

The article appeared in the recent edition of the Tabor College View and is reprinted with permission.

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