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SMC dining hall adds to-go option

| Wednesday, October 15, 2014

In  an effort to increase convenience for student meals as well as bolster sustainability practices, Saint Mary’s instituted an eco-friendly take-out food option in the dining hall this year.

SMC traysCaitlyn Jordan | The Observer
Director of dining services Barry Bowles said students with busy academic schedules, inflexible work hours, or back to back extracurricular activities will especially benefit from this change.

“The dining hall has gone so far in sustainability efforts that I wanted an environmentally friendly option that meets the needs of different types of students,” Bowles said. “Overall it helps everyone who likes to have a hot meal because they can get in and out of the dining hall in ten minutes.”

With the stresses of college life, students may not always consider the importance of reusing materials, but the plasticware in the dining hall is made of potato starch and the cups are biodegradable, Bowles said. Therefore, anyone who pays the 99 cents to take out a meal plays a role in bettering the planet, he said. Finding the right materials and organizing the program, however, was not the easiest task. The Sodexo food office worked together to source biodegradable items, Bowles said.

The Saint Mary’s community seems equally enthusiastic about Noble Family Dining Hall’s new approach, senior Amanda Gilbert said, as it appeals to a wide variety of students and allows them to eat on their own time rather than within scheduled hours.

“Sometimes you just want to eat alone without people staring at you, or you want to eat while you study,” Gilbert said. “This option makes it very convenient for those who want to study in the library or another space.”

Bowles said he is pleased with students’ generally positive responses to the new program.

“I have stopped students and actively talked to them, and it’s really helping me out,” he said. “It’s useful to understand everyone’s needs.”

Bowles said he also credits the administration for playing a major role throughout the transition to include the to-go option, which has provided students with close to 1,000 take-out materials since it began offering them on Aug. 25.

Gilbert said the to-go option doesn’t detract from the experience of sitting down to eat with friends, but rather the Saint Mary’s community is taking advantage of a environmentally sound option without losing the social experience.

“We all have times where we want to just get a meal and eat quickly,” Gilbert said.

Saint Mary’s strives to accommodate the busy schedules of all its community members, and this new to-go initiative is certainly no exception, Bowles said.

“People deserve the opportunity to eat on their own time,” Bowles said. “The take-out option was a necessary step because students, faculty, and staff can all benefit from it in their own ways.”



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About Martha Reilly

Martha is a senior majoring in English literature and political science. She currently serves as Saint Mary's editor but still values the Oxford comma in everyday use.

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