Reusable container program meets health department rules

Published in FSD Update

Students at Virginia Tech can now choose a reusable to-go container rather than a foam one at the West End, one of the campus’s 11 dining halls.

After paying a $12 annual membership fee, students receive a keychain with three tags, each representing a container that they can check out. They trade in the tags for a reusable container at the time of service, and dining staff will put the chosen food items directly into it. When students are finished with the container, they simply exchange it for a new tag. The used containers are then cleaned and sanitized by dining services staff. The program began last semester, according to Rial Tombes, sustainability coordinator for dining services.

A reusable container program was in place previously. However, students were required to wash and return the containers themselves. Due to health department regulations, dining services could not put food directly into the containers. Instead, students had to move their meal items from the service plate into the container.

In part due to the fact that the program is only at one location, only about 1 percent of to-go meals are placed in the reusable containers. Tombes hopes to have the program in place at multiple dining facilities or charge for the use of foam containers to increase participation. 

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

The Virginia Department of Health said it has traced a “cluster” of hepatitis A cases to frozen Egyptian strawberries used by Virginia units of a smoothie chain.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe voluntarily trashed the strawberries and switched to supplies from a different source immediately after being notified of the connection, the health department said in a statement issued Friday.

The department noted that it had traced earlier outbreaks of hepatitis A to strawberries imported from Egypt. But it warned that supplies may still be in the freezers of other foodservice operations...

Managing Your Business
business man smash computer

Foodservice directors spend a lot of time taking care of other people, whether it’s K-12 students who aren’t always eating enough at home, malnourished patients back for return visits or employees squabbling among themselves. That kind of pressure can weigh heavily—and come home from work. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America finds that 83% of men and 72% of women say stress at work carries over into their personal lives, and 50% call staff management their main culprit for workplace stress.

“Stress is very difficult in our world, and work-life balance is very much a...

Industry News & Opinion

Students at an Arkansas high school may have to take creative measures to get a meal, thanks to a school policy that prevents parents from dropping off lunches left at home.

The Catholic High School for Boys in Little Rock, Ark., last week posted a picture on Facebook of a sign that reads, “Stop. If you are dropping off your son’s forgotten lunch, books, homework, equipment, etc., please turn around and exit the building. Your son will learn to problem-solve in your absence.”

While social media opinions on the school’s rule were mixed, some commenters expressed concern that...

Industry News & Opinion

Novato Unified School District in Novato, Calif., has created a new vegetarian grab-and-go item as part of the district’s Meatless Monday initiative, marinij.com reports .

The Fiesta Rice and Bean Shaker, which is served in disposable cups, contains rice, corn, black beans, taco seasoning, corn tortilla chips and romaine lettuce topped with an optional salsa and ranch dressing. It’s also customizable, as students are able to select which ingredients they’d like to include.

The vegetarian shaker is made using produce from a nearby organic garden. Sofie Garcia, an employee in...

FSD Resources