Dining halls introduce recyclable to-go boxes and more


Photo courtesy calvin.edu.

Update, 3/5/18 11:47 a.m.: New meal plan options and extended hours will begin in the fall, not Mar. 5.

Dining services is introducing several changes, starting this Monday, Mar. 5 with recyclable to-go containers and reduced dining hours. In the fall, there will be new options for meal plans and extended hours.

The recyclable containers, known as “Green-2-Go,” are available as a one-time purchase from the main dining services office located in the Commons building. A portable green three-compartment box measuring 9 inches square by 3.5 inches deep is $8, and a companion 16 oz. soup container can also be bought for $2.

Diners who wish to grab food and go need only to bring their boxes, swipe into either Commons or Knollcrest Dining Hall and fill them up. When they return at a different time, they can simply turn in their used box to the dining hall worker at the counter and receive  a clean box to use.

Dirty boxes will be cleaned by dining services to ensure proper sanitation and reusability. Bringing personal containers is not allowed due to cross-contamination concerns.

Steve McBride, director of dining services, anticipates an overall good response from the community.

“We did a survey last semester, and there were a lot of comments from students saying they would love to just take the food out of the dining hall …  because Commons is always so busy at lunch,” McBride said.

“This option for people to be able to leave and take [food] back to their office or dorm room or class is a plus.”

Users of the Green-2-Go program still need to provide their own utensils. Plastic utensils are available in cafes around campus, but the more sustainable option is to carry a personal set around. McBride sees sustainability playing a role in various changes within dining services, from food preparation to water usage, sourcing from local purveyors, batch cooking and sometimes cooking to order.

Additionally, for the fall, dining services is hoping to add an unlimited meal plan, as well as changing the tiered block plans to 205, 150, or 100 meals, all while aiming to keep costs comparable to what they currently are.

“Lots of students were looking for flexibility with their meal plans,” said McBride.

Starting this week, some dining hall hours will also be reduced or shifted around: on Fridays, Uppercrust will now close at 3 instead of 5 p.m.; on Saturdays, Knollcrest dinner will start at 5 instead of 4:45 p.m. and will close at 6:30 instead of 6:15 p.m.; Knollcrest lunch will close at 1 instead of 1:30 p.m.

“All these changes are to use our resources in a better way, with staffing and budget,” said McBride.

In the fall, McBride anticipates that dining hall hours will be extended, though the exact details are still tentative.