If I May: It’s Okay to Use a Tray

Earlier this year, I wrote an article for The Amherst Student titled “Try Tray-less.” In it, I urged those who were against the tray-less movement to simply give it a try and see if it really affected their dining experience in Valentine. I was driven to write this article because I was initially skeptical of going tray-less, but once I stopped using one, I realized that it didn’t greatly affect my Val experience. In fact, since going tray-less, I’ve found that I am far less likely to end up with a significant amount of food waste on my plate. This was one of the main points of the movement. Without trays, students are far more likely to be economical and smart about what they carry out of the food area in Val.

However, Val has not gone truly tray-less. While Val has decreased the number of trays available to students and moved them from the prominent spot outside of the “Traditional” line, there are still some trays available next to the swipe-in booths at the entrance to the dining hall. Many students have continued to use these trays. A gut reaction of many of my peers — including myself, initially — has been some disappointment in these students’ lack of willingness to embrace the tray-less initiative. However, a dear friend pointed out that the whole point of keeping those trays there is so that students who find them very useful can use them. He also mentioned that it is totally fine to use a tray — as long as you are not wasting food.

I’d like to echo this sentiment. If a student knows that they are going to eat a large meal, then they should, by all means, use a tray. If a student has been eating the same breakfast for four years of college that required a tray, and they know that they will finish everything they get, then by all means, use a tray. Furthermore, students should not immediately assume that peers who use trays have bad intentions. Perhaps they just have a routine that they are used to, and they know that a tray is necessary. The reason for reducing the number of trays present in Val was to break the norm of using a tray. Now, students who did not need trays before are not using them and less food is being wasted. However, those students who do need trays should still feel comfortable using them, as they are hopefully not adding to the amount of food waste, either.