As part of USF’s initiative to increase sustainability on campus, Dining Services has switched from using disposable Styrofoam to-go food containers to reusable to-go boxes made of recyclable materials.
All three dining halls on campus – Fresh Food Company (Argos Complex), Bulls Den Caf (Andros Complex) and Juniper Dining – have made the changes.
“This (initiative) furthers our sustainability efforts with our partnership with the USF Office of Sustainability,” said Jenna Burns, marketing manager of USF Dining. “(The reusable to-go boxes) will divert the Styrofoam containers to landfills. Our goals are to strive toward zero waste and support the sustainability goals of USF.”
Burns said students must pay a $4 refundable deposit from their Dining Dollar balance to receive a to-go box. When they return for their next meal, they can either swap for a clean one at no charge or return their container and receive their deposit.
“If the guest does not have their container with them, they will either have to pay the $4 refundable fee for a new one, or eat in at the facility,” she said. “If the guest wishes to just swap the container out for a clean one, but not eat in or take out, they can do so.”
Ria Thomas, a freshman majoring in science, said the boxes “are a great idea,” but she was not informed about the policies for the refundable deposit before going to eat at the dining hall.
“No one told me that it was a refundable deposit. They just told me the box was $4 and it was charged to my Bull Bucks account,” she said. “I didn’t know it was refundable.”
Burns said that students who are concerned about environmental damage caused by Styrofoam can “join others in the effort to reduce waste on our campus” by using these reusable to-go containers
instead of throwing away more than 200,000 Styrofoam containers on campus per year.
Another change this semester is the extended hours offered at some dining locations.
Juniper Dining is now open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
The Marshall Student Center Food Court is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Beef ‘O’ Brady’s is open from 11 a.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday.
Bulls Den Caf is open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Friday, and Fresh Food Company is open from Monday to Thursday from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Fridays and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Mikelcie Molin, a freshman majoring in nursing, said the extended hours make it easier for her to schedule her meals around classes.
“Over the summer, dinner was over at like seven, and I eat dinner a lot later than that, so by around 10 or 12 p.m., my roommate and I would get hungry and have nowhere to go,” she said.
Burns said the change came after Dining Services conducted a survey last school year.
“Each semester we conduct a DiningStyles survey to the USF community. Based on the results of this survey, focus groups and other interaction with students, we extended the hours at some of our locations,” she said.
– Additional reporting by Marcus Egan.