Safety, environmental awareness new priorities for Union’s dining services

By Jill Miller

Staff Writer

Photo by Zac Calvert
Jamie Fox, junior mathematics major, puts up puts his dirty dishes in the Brewer Dining Hall dish rack, which has now been labeled a danger zone.

Those who eat in Brewer Dining Hall and at the Lexington Inn may notice the facilities’ efforts this semester to “go green.”

Styrofoam plates and cups used in The Lex have been replaced with paper containers, and both The Lex and Brewer are now distributing reusable plastic containers in place of traditional “to-go” boxes.

Each student is allowed his or her first to-go box for free.

The student’s I.D. is then marked so that dining services is aware that he or she has used that first box, said Kimberly Thornbury, senior vice president for student services and dean of students.

“Students can either return the to-go box dirty in exchange for a clean box, or return the to-go box dirty for a card that you can exchange for the next time you need a to-go box,” Thornbury said.

Thornbury also said that once a student has used the new containers 10 times, he or she will receive a $2-off coupon to Barefoots Joe as a reward for participating.

Photo by Zac Calvert
Mary Rhea, sophomore nursing major, puts her dirty dishes in the Brewer Dining Hall dish rack, which has now been labeled a danger zone.

Tony Meek, food service director, said the use of the new plastic containers is a “contribution to sustainability.”

“I think it’s really cool that Union is trying to become more conscious of the environment,” said Taylor Doyle, junior political science major. “It makes me feel like I’m making a difference for the future.”

Some students noted other differences they see as they eat breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Other changes include a red wall erected in front of the tray return area in the dining hall and the placement of a “danger zone” sign to the area, a change that has perplexed students.

“I didn’t really get why [the sign] was there,” Doyle said. “I never thought we would need a sign like that.”

Photo by Zac Calvert
The Brewer Dining Hall dish rack, where students put their dirty dishes, is now labeled as a danger zone.

The sign was added after a participant in Centrifuge was bruised over the summer when returning dirty dishes to the tray area, said Gary Carter, senior vice president for business and financial services.

The girl’s arm was nearly caught between the wall and a tray. The return mechanism kept her from suffering further harm, Carter said.

“The sign helps remind everyone that the return keeps moving, even when your hand or arm is still putting your tray away,” Thornbury said.

The goal was to keep everyone “aware and protected,” Thornbury said.

The addition of a wall makes the area more efficient.

“The new wall was installed to improve guest flow from the entrance to the exit as well as improve the aesthetics of the dining room,” Meek said.

Since its installation, he said, “I have seen improvement in guest flow, which has reduced the service time for our guests.”


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The Cardinal & Cream is a student publication of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Our staff ranges from freshmen to seniors and includes a variety of majors — including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, digital media studies, graphic design and art majors.