Unappetizing Changes

BY ALYSSA GALLO // NOV. 14, 2012 //

From reusable plastic tokens to time-stamped paper receipts. From plastic to-go containers to Styrofoam plates with plastic wrap. From paper coffee cups available as needed to paper coffee cups in the control of staff.

Curry students aren’t too happy about changes in the Student Center dining hall, including the use of receipts instead of tokens. // COURTESY PHOTO //

Individually, each is a small change to life in the Curry Student Center dining hall. But collectively, they have raised the ire of students throughout campus.

Curry instituted the changes to reduce waste, but also to save a little money, said Keith Meal, general manager of food services at Curry. He admitted that no students were consulted before making the changes.

While students say they are happy to support environmentally friendly efforts, the changes in the dining hall don’t seem “green” at all—unless one is talking the color of money. Switching from plastic tokens to throwaway paper receipts doesn’t prevent waste; it limits the opportunity for students to get a dessert or a coffee after their meals, they say. And switching from plastic “clam shell” to-go containers to Styrofoam plates couldn’t possibly be a net-benefit for the Earth. Not to mention, the plates can’t hold nearly as much food as the containers could—which students perceive to be the real purpose of the change.

“I think that the new changes to the Student Center are very inconvenient and a waste of paper,” said Jaclyn Morse, a sophomore nursing major, who noted that patrons have to ask to receive a stamped receipt after each meal. Some students don’t decide to get dessert until after they have finished eating, she explained, but by then it is too late to get a receipt. Previously, tokens were routinely handed out when you paid for your meals. In addition, the new receipts are time-stamped. Students have only 90 minutes to use the receipt; after that, the receipts are no longer valid.

“The policy states, ‘You may trade one side for one token to be used for an ice cream, dessert, or hot beverage for that meal only,” said Meal. “By offering a stamped receipt labeled with both the time and date, our staff now has the ability to ensure that tokens are used only at the meal in which they were

As for the to-go containers, Meal said one of the main goals in making the switch was to encourage students to eat in the Student Center.

“We did consider implementing a charge for the clam shell to-go containers, which is what many college campuses have done in order to accomplish the same goals as Curry, but decided to try this method instead since we realize that many of our students are on a very tight budget,” said Meal, noting that this change was not intended to reduce environmental impact. Requiring students to pay for their to-go containers would likely have led to even more complaints, he added.

Such rationale is of little solace to students. “I think it’s stupid,” says Paije Gandolfi, a sophomore health major.

Meal said the changes, approved by the college’s administration and Dining Services department, which is operated by the food services company Sodexo, were tested during the summer as well as during the fall 2012 pre-opening period. Meal also noted that Curry is not the only school using this plan. Other Sodexo-serviced schools made similar changes to save money and limit
material waste.

“We have been watching and evaluating the behaviors and habits of our current customers in the Market Place for a considerable amount of time,” said Meal. “And although no students were directly consulted prior to making these changes, we believe that we have made both informed and responsible decisions which are in the best interest of the Curry community.”


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