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December 2009 Archives


It’s that time of year again. The season for sharing, giving and spending time with family and friends. Oh yeah – and let’s not forget eating.

In light of the current economy, many are scaling back this year. Yet plenty of food will be consumed and wasted this holiday season. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that nearly 100 BILLION pounds of food go to waste each year in the United States. That’s literally tons of food every day. Up to 27 percent of the edible food available.

In the interest of sustainability, Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, has taken steps to reduce that waste. At a school which prides its self on nurturing community service and instilling social responsibility, student food service employees were appalled by the amount of food that was wasted every day. Like many college cafeterias, Concordia’s meal plan offers a variety of foods – all you can eat – for one fixed price. Too much food was being left on the trays to be discarded.

So when students returned to school this fall they noticed something missing from the cafeteria. Trays were gone. As part of the college’s “campus roadmap to sustainability” the dining services cafeteria had become trayless.

The impact was huge. Based on food waste studies, the college estimates a decrease in food wasted of around 24 percent. That’s nearly 150 pounds of food per day – enough to feed nearly 120 people. Add to that the water and utilities saved by not washing trays, means substantial savings in financial costs and environmental impact.

Could trayless cafeterias also be the solution for the infamous “freshman fifteen?”

I suspect that the policy probably will have positive health impacts as well. I’m a big fan of the work of Brian Wansink – consumer psychologist, marketing professor and author of the book Mindless Eating. Dr. Wansink’s research shows that portion size, plate size, variety and convenience of food access all impact how much we eat. People eat 20 to 25 percent more from larger packages. They drink 25 to 30 percent more from a short wide glass compared with a tall thin one. They dish up an average of 31 percent more ice cream when provided a 34 oz compared with a 17 oz bowl. They’ll eat 59 percent more Chex Mix served from a gallon sized bowl compared with Chex Mix served from a half gallon sized bowl. Although students and staff are still free to eat as much as they like, I’m guessing many take less and eat less when they can’t use a tray.

Dr. Jim Aageson, who led the trayless dining initiative at Concordia, said they hadn’t tested that hypothesis. But he agreed that there could be an impact. "When I have a tray I take more food, and when I have more food I most often eat more than I need," said Aageson. "Going trayless is certainly a plus for the responsible use of food, the environment and me."

Photo Credit http://www.flickr.com/photos/freakgirl / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Employers, employees, and union representatives will highlight flexible work arrangements that have been critical to their success.

Monday, December 14, 2009, 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Capitol Visitors’ Center, SVC-208 & 209, Washington, DC

(Senate and House staff are both invited to attend this briefing.)

Flexible work arrangements have played a key role in helping employers attract and retain employees, reduce absenteeism and turnover and improve productivity. Likewise, flexible work arrangements have enabled many workers (both hourly and salaried) to hold down jobs while caring for family members, addressing their own health conditions, pursuing job training, and addressing other life circumstances that arise -- everything from military deployments to domestic violence.

At this briefing, employers, workers and union representatives will describe why flexible work arrangements have been effective business and workforce strategies, and the hallmarks of successful flexible work arrangements programs.


Ellen Galinsky, President and Co-Founder, Families and Work Institute
Amy Richman, Senior Consultant, WFD Consulting
Nina Madoo, Senior Director of Workplace Strategies, Marriott International, Inc.
Deb De Marco Bee, Customer Care and Sales Specialist, Marriott International, Inc.
Fiona Grant, Senior Director--Human Resources, Accenture
Katherine Sleep, CEO, List Innovative Solutions, Inc.
Kris Rondeau, Founder and Organizer, Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers
Janice Hallman, Web Designer, AARP

This is the second in a two-part briefing series sponsored by the following organizations:

American Association of People with Disabilities
American Psychological Association
Corporate Voices for Working Families
Family Values at Work Consortium
Legal Momentum
National Military Family Association
National Partnership for Women & Families
New America Foundation
Society for Human Resource Management
United States Chamber of Commerce
Workplace Flexibility 2010

Please RSVP to Bill Margeson at wam32@law.georgetown.edu



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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from December 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

November 2009 is the previous archive.

January 2010 is the next archive.

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