Dining halls may pilot ‘takeout’ program

Time-strapped students accustomed to sneaking their dinner from Yale’s dining halls for late-night consumption may soon be able to do so without risking glares and slaps on the wrist from dining-hall employees.

Pursuant to a Yale College Council proposal to expand dining options, Yale University Dining Services administrators have agreed to analyze the feasibility of expanding “takeout” options in residential-college dining halls. If the proposal meets approval from the Council of Masters and campus environmental groups, students will have the option of transporting their meals to outside locations in YUDS-provided receptacles.

Yale University Dining Services administrators are considering offering “take-out” options from one or two residential-college dining halls next semester.
Blair Benham-Pyle
Yale University Dining Services administrators are considering offering “take-out” options from one or two residential-college dining halls next semester.

YUDS will consider placing takeout containers in one or two residential-college dining halls at an unspecified time after winter break as part of a proposed pilot program, officials said. In response to a second proposal by the Freshman Class Council, YUDS is also considering providing lids for hot drinks.

Although details of the program are still being worked out, boxes would likely be stacked near the front of each participating dining hall during lunch, YUDS officials said. Students wishing to use the takeout option would indicate their intent when swiping in, and YUDS workers in the servery would monitor the students to ensure they filled their boxes and left the dining hall quickly.

Administrators said they are concerned that students might abuse the policy by using the takeout boxes to hoard food or provide it to friends without a meal plan.

Interim Director of Residential Operations Charles Bennett said he thinks Yale has to catch up with “more contemporary” dining programs at other colleges and universities. The expense of purchasing containers and the impact the disposable containers might have on the environment are potential drawbacks of the program, he said.

“Besides the actual cost of take-out supplies, there’s the question of, ‘Will students be eating more?’” YUDS Spokeswoman Karen Dougherty said. “This could hit the bottom line.”

Students on full meal plans — which provide 21 meals per week — eat an average of 14.7 meals per week in Yale dining halls, Dougherty said. The takeout could increase the number of meals students eat each week, she said.

Nevertheless, Bennett — who called the plan “a really good idea” — said the financial demands of the proposal are unlikely to derail it.

“There may be some cost factors, but I don’t imagine it’s going to be excessive,” Bennett said.

When paper cups were originally introduced into residential-college dining halls two years ago, Bennett said, a fierce debate ensued over the environmental effects excess waste produced by the disposable items would have. Dougherty said she understands the environmental concern and is asking the involved student groups — YCC, FCC, the Yale Student Environmental Coalition, and the Student Taskforce for Environmental Partnership — to arrive at a consensus before presenting a final, long-term plan to YUDS.

“We don’t want to get caught in the middle of this,” Dougherty said.

That sort of reaching across the aisle has not happened yet. YCC and FCC members involved said they have not yet made contact with representatives from environmental groups, and FCC Representative Yaron Schwartz ’11 said it is likely the dialogue will take place over winter break.

Under the plan, changes would also have to be made to the Yale College Undergraduate Regulations, which stipulate that “food may not be taken from the dining hall to be consumed later.” Currently, students are allowed to remove only “a sandwich, burger, or pizza slice; a cookie or brownie, an ice cream cone, or a single piece of fruit.”

YUDS officials and students involved were unsure how those regulations would be changed to reflect both the pilot and a possible broader, long-term policy change.

If the pilot program is implemented and proves successful — and if environmental issues can be resolved — a University-wide plan could debut next fall, Bennett said.

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