Writer Mira Lerner describes effective ways to use meal plans to reduce waste.

Photo Courtesy The Rail Media

By Mira Lerner || Copy Editor

Every week, students produce numerous pounds of food waste, especially at the Dining Hall. Maybe you took too much and can’t finish what’s on your plate or you thought it looked good and realized you’re not actually into it. Nevertheless, that uneaten food getting tossed into the compost bin piles up. 

There are 1550 students on a meal plan and an average of 1500 students swipe through d-hall each day. Let’s say each person throws away a mere two ounces, or an eighth of a pound, of food at each meal. For reference, that is equivalent to roughly 6 tablespoons of cooked rice. Two ounces per person per meal at 1500 students a day creates 187.5 pounds of waste a day, 1312 pounds a week, and 10.5 tons a semester.

You might be asking, “the food is already prepared, what’s the big deal?” Well, d-hall tries to prepare the right amount of food so as not to have excess after students are done eating. Therefore, the more food students take, the more food d-hall expects to prepare for the next day. If students took less food, d-hall would prepare less and there would be less waste from d-hall over-preparing and students over-taking. 

Another way for students to reduce food waste is to consider the most efficient ways to spend dip-deals and flex. At locations such as College Center and Blueline, most meals are made-to-order meaning that there is less prepared food going to waste. However, such options can be pricier, especially if you’re really hungry. 

Photo Courtesy Mira Lerner

Here is a simple breakdown of all the meal plans that Sodexo offers:

The 225 Meal Block Plan with $120 Flex comes out to $12.57/swipe. Assuming you use your meal plan over breaks, this leaves you with 2 dip-deals and $1 in flex per day. On this plan especially you’ll want to use dip-deals as much as you can.

The 150 Meal Block Plan with $400 Flex comes out to $16.53/swipe. Assuming you use your meal plan over breaks, this leaves you with 1.33 dip-deals and $3.60 in flex per day. 

The 125 Meal Block plan with $220 Flex comes out to $19.28/swipe. Assuming you use your meal plan over breaks, this leaves you with 1.11 dip-deals and $1.96 in flex per day.

The 70 Meal Block Plan with $225 Flex comes out to $23.14/swipe. Assuming you use your meal plan over breaks, this leaves you with slightly over 1 dip-deals and $2 in flex per day.

The 50 Meal Block Plan with $340 Flex comes out to $24.80/swipe. Assuming you use your meal plan over breaks, this leaves you with slightly less than 1 dip-deal and $3 in flex per day.

The 20 Meals Per Week with $180 Flex comes out to $8.71/ swipe. This leaves you with 2.85 dip-deals and $1.60 in flex per day.

The 14 Meals Per Week with $250 Flex comes out to $12.05/swipe. This leaves you with 2 dip-deals and $2.23 in flex per day.

The 7 Meals Per Week with No Flex comes out to $14.59/swipe. This leaves you with 1 dip-deal per day.

Obviously, when eating at d-hall you use a swipe. However, when you visit other dining locations on campus there are ways to spend your meal plan wisely. If you think you’ll need more than one dip-deal’s worth of food at BlueLine, CC, or LSP, you’re better off going to d-hall. No matter what meal plan you’re on, though, it is probably in your best interest to dip-deal on anything over $5.

Senior Mira Lerner is a Copy Editor. Her email is mlerner@fandm.edu.

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