Whitmans’ standardizes portion sizes

In an effort to reduce food waste, Dining Services is undertaking efforts to standardize and limit the size of food portions at Whitmans’.

The changes emanate from the newly formed Food Standards Taskforce comprised of chefs from dining halls across campus. Their goal is to examine menus, recipes and portion sizes to help manage food waste. These new policies are also intended to promote the standardization of dining experiences by ensuring that portion sizes will no longer depend on the generosity of the server or at what time a student dines.

Deli meats, entrees, and salad portions are just a few of the items that are being more strictly regulated at Whitmans’. For example, the deli bar there has now developed a Subway style system where meats are pre-portioned. The salad bar also carefully weighs out the meat options before serving. Furthermore, the two-sides policy is now being more closely enforced.

Jacquita Richardson ’10 welcomes these changes. “Before the servers definitely judged by sizes and sometimes you got so little or a giant mound of potatoes – it was such a waste,” she said.

Others more critical of the changes speculate that the main motivator is the rise in food prices rather than a better dining experience. In response, Chris Abayasinghe, assistant director of student dining said, “Our economy this year has seen the impact of rising food prices. However, the Food Standards Taskforce would still have been formed and charged with establishing these standards”.

Abayasinghe stressed that Dining Services was coping with rising prices instead by being more selective in its food purchases while still supporting local farmers. Dining Services also focused increasingly on saving from non-food items such as linen and chemical purchases.

These changes are not unique to Whitmans’. In other dining venues, meat is being served in portions that decrease waste while recipes are being revamped to conserve food.

Whether these policies have indeed made a difference in food waste cannot yet be determined. However, Dining Services and its compost hauler are installing a program to weigh compost at each dining hall daily to measure the effectiveness of the changes.