In the fall of 2018, MVNU students, faculty and staff saw a major change in the MVNU dining commons with the removal of the trays.
MVNU joined the growing movement of tray removal from colleges and universities. MVNU is one of the last Pioneer catering schools and the last Nazarene school to do away with trays according to Rob Stiltner, MVNUs food service director.
The removal of the trays from the cafeteria was an idea brought fourth from the sustainability club.
Paige Gutai, president of the sustainability club, spearheaded the project.
“This has been a goal since last year,” said Gutai. “I had a meeting with Rob, and he was super onboard with the idea.”
The club had done a lot of research and hoped by eliminating trays they would cut down on food waste in the cafeteria.
The club then took the idea to student life who also agreed.
Stiltner says the change brought benefits to the cafeteria.
“We can stop the dish machine,” Stiltner said. “It used to run the whole day. Now we can stop it. Even if it’s for 15 minutes at a time, we can save water and electricity.”
The dish room is also able to use less dish soap.
The trays are currently in storage in the cafeteria.
“Some trays are available for those who need them,” Stiltner said. He wants to have them available for the elderly and those with disabilities.
Overall, the reaction to the removal of the trays has been overwhelmingly positive, but there have been some who have voiced their complaints to both the cafeteria staff and the sustainability club. Stiltner received some negative comments in emails from students as well as in person.
Despite the criticism, Stiltner does not see the trays returning in the future and is trying to get more student voice into cafeteria issues with things like a food committee.
“We want the cafeteria to be a reflection of you guys,” Stiltner said. “I’m all about you guys not being ignored. This is your guys’ school. I’m just here to make sure people get food. If you are passionate about something, who am I to say no.”