Sutter Dining should dump all-you-can eat buffet

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Illustration by Liz Coffee

Illustration by Liz Coffee

Chico State generates over 140,000 pounds of waste every school year. As Associated Students strives toward its zero-waste goal, the university is faced with the task of reducing food waste.

Out of the 143,325 pounds of waste produced in the last year, more than half came from students throwing out their food, and although A.S. hasn’t landed on a clear solution yet, the source of the problem is obvious.

The all-you-can-eat buffet system in Sutter Dining, where most of the waste comes from, has each student throwing away a half-pound of food every day with little care for how much they’re wasting.

Instead of giving residents unlimited access to food with the swipe of a card, University Housing and Food Service should change Sutter Dining to a point system that puts a value on individual dishes. If students can place a tangible value on the food in front of them, then they won’t write it off as trash.

With the current buffet system, students are encouraged to make rounds through the dining hall, taking whatever looks interesting and throwing away whatever they don’t want to finish. As A.S. sustainability coordinator Eli Goodsell stated in his interview, students’ current mentality toward food is a bite of this, a bite of that, throw out the rest.

Even one of Sutter Dining’s regulars, Samuel Martiz, could see the flaws in a buffet system.

Changing the meal plan from a single swipe chow-down to a points system that puts value on individual dishes will teach students not to take dorm food for granted.

Humboldt State already successfully uses a points system in their dining halls. Students buy a meal plan that grants them a certain amount of points per semester, and each food item that they take in the dining hall is deducted from their total points.

When each dish has a value and each student has a budget, food doesn’t get tossed out like trash.

Proponents of Sutter Dining’s current smorgasbord might argue that this points system is too limiting and that students won’t have enough food.

However, if it can work for Humboldt State, a college afflicted by a campus-wide case of the munchies, it can work for Chico State too.

If waste reduction is the goal, then Sutter Dining should stop handing out meals like candy. It’s a dining hall, not a Hometown Buffet.

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