Carolina Dining Services reinstated its reusable container program for takeout at campus dining halls one week after the start of the fall semester — after months of dishing out disposable plastic and compostable containers.
By the time this change was made, UNC had already announced the occupancy on campus was reduced to 64 percent and just before the University asked students to cancel their on-campus housing contracts.
CDS said in an email via Stephanie Berrier, a member of the communications team for UNC's Division of Finance and Operations, that the transition to single-use items in March stemmed from uncertainty at the outset of the pandemic.
“This operational change and other safety protocols were based on recommendations by health officials at a time when there were still many unknowns about COVID-19 and were in keeping with industry best practices," CDS said in the email.
But students and student groups are concerned with how CDS handled its services and the impact of single-use products.
Kenaz Flores is the historian for the environmental group Carolina 360.
“Not only is the production unsustainable, but the continuous transportation to UNC adds to our carbon footprint, along with the disposal of the cutlery,” Flores said.
As a result of COVID-19, CDS also offered delivery and retail to-go options. In addition, food truck options were expanded to offer over 12 trucks throughout campus, Monday through Friday. This was all in an effort to de-densify UNC’s indoor dining hall seating.
“Customer and staff safety will always remain the top priority, especially during this global pandemic,” CDS said in an email. “Changes made to dining facility operations in response to COVID-19 have followed current health guidance and industry best practices and will be continually updated based on further guidance from the CDC and the Orange County Health Department.”