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Posted at 12:12 PM ET, 02/17/2011

Adios, cafeteria trays!

By Jenna Johnson
Jenna Johnson

Walk into a college cafeteria and, chances are, you won't find a huge stack of trays near the front of the line. In the past few years, many college dining halls have ditched cafeteria trays to reduce utility and water costs, plus cut way down on the amount of wasted food. (My story about "traylessness" was just posted online.)

Last week, I had lunch at the D2 dining hall at Virginia Tech -- and it took me three trips back and forth to assemble my meal. First I grabbed a pear and goat cheese salad and a bowl of potato and leek soup. Then a glass of ice water. Then I realized I had forgotten to grab silverware. Students at nearby tables sat with piles of plates, bowls and cups, sometimes half-a-dozen high.

Going trayless is "basically just saving ourselves from our eyes being bigger than our stomachs," said Jonathan Bloom, who blogs about wasted food and wrote a book called "American Wasteland." Bloom has studied the trayless trend for years and estimates that half of colleges in the country have gone trayless in some fashion. "It just seems like such a shame to see good, nourishing food go to waste."

But cafeteria trays are a part of college culture -- now what are students going to use as makeshift sleds or sneakily grabbed souvenirs? What were some other uses of cafeteria trays? Tell me on Twitter using the hashtag #trayless.

And if you are around at 1 p.m. Thursday, feel free to ask me questions about the trayless movement during my weekly online chat, Campus Overload Live.

By Jenna Johnson  | February 17, 2011; 12:12 PM ET
Categories:  News Overload  | Tags:  Virginia Tech  
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