UT students concerned about food waste as dining halls shift back to self-serve food stations

Ali Juell, News Reporter

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the April 5, 2022 flipbook.

University dining halls transitioned from staff serving lines to self-serve stations last month in a return to pre-pandemic conditions, according to Josue Rodriguez, assistant director of marketing and communications for University Housing and Dining.

While the recent shift in on-campus dining halls operation is welcomed by students, many say they are conscious of potential food waste from self-determined portions. Rodriguez said the shift will benefit students by increasing dining options.

“Since we’re returning back to our normal all-you-can-eat program, this allows the opportunity for us to expand our menu options served daily,” Rodriguez said. “With our limited staffing, we can extend menu offerings by moving our staff from the serving line to opening additional stations in our dining halls.”

Rodriguez said the dining hall encourages students to only take as much food as they need or use the Eco2Go program to take food outside of the dining halls.

Devia Joshi, a sustainability studies senior and co-leader of the Campus Environmental Center’s Green Events project, said the inability to take food outside of the dining halls without participating in the Eco2Go program at an additional cost increases the potential for waste, especially if students overestimate their appetites and overfill their plates.

“I know, speaking from experience, that a lot of times my eyes are bigger than my stomach, and I get more than I can eat,” Joshi said. “If I can’t take it home with me, then I would just throw it away.”