Going "Trayless" to Cut Food Costs, Waste

As a measure to cut food costs and reduce the amount of wasted food, the  trade magazine Restaurants & Institutions reports that many college and university dining programs are "going trayless."


Foodservice managers have found that when trays are eliminated from all-you-can-eat cafeterias, students take less food. As a result, less food also goes uneaten and ends up in the trash. Additional environmental benefits come from eliminating the need to wash the trays, resulting in less use of detergents and savings in energy and water.

The solution makes sense in the same way that Dr. Brian Wansink has shown how the size of a plate can influence portion size and how much a person eats. It begs the question as to whether going trayless may not only eliminate waste, but also lead students to cut back on their calorie intake. Could traylessness even spell the end of the dreaded "freshman 15"?

Aramark Higher Education, a provider of dining services to colleges and universities, claims that those schools which have removed their trays have seen a 25% to 30% drop in food waste per person. The company estimates that half of its 500 campus partners will be trayless by spring 2009.



You're on to something with the idea that going tray-less = eating less food.

I remember my college days... filling up the tray with a bowl of this and a plate of that, just because the tray provided a way of carrying it ALL back to my table in one easy swoop. Yep - not too surprisingly, I gained the Freshman-15 and contributed a few more dishes to the dishwasher than were really necessary.

The think the idea of going trayless is wonderful! It decreases food waste, encourages conscious eating (Am I full? Do I really want another ice cream sundae?), and exchanges a bit of the fast food cafeteria like feeling for a more cozy, family-style atmosphere... simply by getting rid of the ugly pastel colored trays.


yes indeed, when you use trays you eat more food, because you can put more plates in the trays.... but when you don't have the space to put the plate, you eat a littla bit less


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