During the month of September, Tufts Dining piloted a new program called Tufts Meal Plan Takeout with the Tufts Eco-Representatives (Eco-Reps). This program allows students a limited amount of time to fill a reusable container with the food of their choice and then take it out of either Carmichael or Dewick-MacPhie Dining Centers to eat wherever they choose.
According to Lyza Bayard, the communications specialist for Tufts Dining, students’ IDs are kept at the front desk while they pick out their food. When students finish with the container, it can be dropped off at Carmichael or Dewick-MacPhie where dining workers clean and sanitize the containers for reuse. When the students drop off their containers, they exchange them for a carabiner that they must hold onto in order to get another takeout container.
According to Bayard, the pilot program started at the beginning of orientation week and will close at the end of September, after which the Eco-Reps will fill out a survey with feedback about the program, giving Dining Services an opportunity to increase its scale and improve the program.
“If we’re able to do it, we would hope to roll that out in the next couple months,” Bayard said.
Eco-Rep Elyssa Anneser explained how this program relates to sustainability at Tufts — unlike the takeout containers at Hodgdon Food-on-the-Run or Pax et Lox, these takeout containers are reusable and also sterilized in the dining halls after every use. These containers also help to minimize food waste; with the limited amount of space in the containers, students are more likely to only take the food that they need instead of wasting food, Anneser explained.
However, Anneser expressed concern that because utensils are not included in the pilot program, students bringing non-reusable utensils may add to waste produced.
Anneser said the program includes a $5 deposit to cover the container in case it is lost.
According to Bayard, a significant amount of effort went in to finding containers that were sturdy enough for students to carry with them and for dining hall staff to clean and sterilize.
“Part of the pilot is to pick out what’s easy and what’s hard. We hope that when we roll it out everyone is excited and that makes it easy to work out,” Bayard said.
Eco-Rep Alyssa Levine said this program is beneficial because it allows her to have more access to fruits and vegetables that aren’t always available at other locations.
“I find that it’s a really good option because I always find myself getting sick of Hodge and Pax options when I want to just study in my room,” Levine said. “Also, the flexibility of the takeout program at Carmichael and Dewick allows students to pickup and drop off containers at either dining hall.”
Being vegan, Levine said that although she has struggled with finding options in the dining hall, this program has given her the flexibility to pick out her own food, then also combine it with her personal salad dressing or other items from the grocery store.
Bayard expanded on this, saying the program has allowed students greater flexibility with their meals because they get to take advantage of all the food options at Carmichael and Dewick as opposed to the more limited options at Hodgdon.