Morgan Dining Hall returns to reusable dishware

The dining hall offered single-use dishware for more than a year after its dishwasher broke.

Stacked plates sit at a station in Morgan Dining Hall on Monday. The dining hall returned to using reusable dishware at the beginning of October. | LUKE SMITH / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Morgan Dining Hall is using reusable dishware, after a broken dishwasher caused the cafeteria to use disposable dishes and utensils last academic year.

The dishwasher broke more than a year ago, and the dining hall began using single-use plates, bowls, cups and utensils, which angered many environmentally conscious students.

“Last year, there was just a lot of backlash from single-use plastic,” said Sarah Kuchan, Temple Student Government’s director of grounds and sustainability. “I know the Office of Sustainability was really invested, but they didn’t do much besides talk with [Aramark]. It was a student push that was needed to make the switch.”

The dishwasher was replaced over the summer. 

Kasey Marsicano, a spokesperson for Aramark, wrote in an email to The Temple News that single-use dishware will not be used on a regular basis, as long as the dishwasher is functioning.

“We will be using the reusable dinnerware at all times possible,” she wrote. “There may be instances beyond our control if the machine requires maintenance that a temporary switch to paper products would occur.”

In March, an Aramark representative told The Temple News that Aramark planned on fixing the dishwasher in Fall 2018. 

Marsicano added that the new dishwasher will save about 45 cases of paper plates each week.

In March, Students for Environmental Action garnered more than 1,000 signatures for its petition to bring back reusable dishware. Kuchan said the group exceeded its signature goal in just a few days.

TSG and SEA teamed up for a “Bring Your Own” campaign in April, where students were given reusable plates by the organizations to use at the dining hall.

“A lot of people when they saw it, they were like, ‘Are we allowed to use these? I thought we weren’t allowed to use our own stuff,’” Kuchan said. “It was a huge success.”

Hannah Gomez, a senior advertising major who lives in Morgan Hall, said that she’s happy the dining hall is using reusable dishes again.

“There was so much trash [in the dining hall] before,” she added. 

Temple was awarded a silver rating in August for sustainability from the Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System, an upgrade from its bronze rating in 2015.

The agency assesses the university’s buildings, waste, water and energy use and transportation. It also considers the university’s investment in research about environmental issues.

Marsicano wrote in an email that Temple Culinary Services has a Green Thread platform that focuses on responsible food sourcing, waste minimization, efficient operations and transportation management to lessen waste.

“The platform represents Aramark’s commitment to reduce our ecological impact on the environment through practices that enrich and support the natural environment,” she added.

“We’re excited about the new dishwasher and excited about the fact that students will have the reusable dishes,” said Kathleen Grady, Temple’s director of sustainability. 

“It models what we have in [Johnson & Hardwick cafeteria] and what we consistently have now across the board,” Grady added. “[It’s] a really great gesture, and we’re thrilled.”

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