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To-Go program sustainable, expedient, easy

October 13, 2015

Sustainability and expedience are the goals for the new To-Go program offered by Tower Dining in a partnership between Auxiliary Services and Chartwells, IUPUI's food-services provider.

Tower Dining

The Tower Dining To-Go program is being promoted online and in the Tower Dining site inside University Tower. | PHOTO COURTESY OF IUPUI FOOD SERVICES

This pilot project utilizes eco-friendly food containers that customers can take with them and then turn in for a new container on a future visit to Tower Dining. The program offers meal-plan participants one free To-Go container as part of their plan, to be used during To-Go hours only. 

"This program reaffirms our commitment to sustainability on campus," said Angie Hill of Auxiliary Services. The program is free for students who are enrolled in any meal plan and $5 for customers who are not enrolled in a meal plan. Hill said the To-Go program is available for all students, faculty and staff.

The To-Go program is based on student and staff feedback received from Chartwells and Tower Dining customers.

"Customers told us they needed a to-go option, and we agreed with them," Hill said. The IUPUI program is similar to one at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Hill noted. She expects the pilot project to run the rest of the academic year.

Feedback and customer responses will continue to be important in evaluating the To-Go program, said Aaron Tyler Fields, the Auxiliary Services director of business development and marketing.

"Our feedback has already been very, very positive, and we have a new effort called text-and-tell, a cool, hip way to use social media to provide information for us and for Chartwells," he said.

The To-Go program's potential is exciting for Jessica Davis, the director of the Office of Sustainability.

"The reusable To-Go program has two direct waste-reduction benefits for our campus," Davis said. "It reduces waste by not using disposable to-go containers, and it cuts down on food waste by giving participants the opportunity to eat leftovers rather than throw them away."

She cited studies that show the average American discards $28 to $43 worth -- or about 20 pounds -- of food each month due to excessive purchasing and food spoilage.

"If we all wasted just 15 percent less food, it would be enough to feed 25 million people each year," Davis said.

FAQs

Q: Why is IUPUI Food Services offering the To-Go program?

A: The To-Go program is being offered for two reasons: to increase sustainable practices on campus and to meet student, faculty and staff needs for expedient dining options.

Q: How does the program work?

A: Once enrolled, you will receive a To-Go container from the cashier. You can then fill the container with food and carry it out from Tower Dining. The next time you come in, you exchange your used container for a new one or for a token, which is redeemable for a new container anytime.

Q: Where and when can I participate in the To-Go program?

A: This pilot program is offered at the Tower Dining location Monday through Friday during the lunch period, from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The success of the program will determine if it will be expanded beyond Monday-through-Friday lunchtime to include breakfast, dinner and weekends.

Q: Who can participate in the To-Go program?

A:  Anyone can participate. Individuals with a meal plan may participate in the program at no charge. Non-meal-plan customers may participate by paying $5 (for the cost of the To Go container).

Q: Where do I enroll in the To-Go program?

A: You can sign up with any cashier at the Tower Dining location.

Q: What if I lose my container or token?

A: If you lose your container or token, you may purchase another for $5.

Q: How many times per day can I use my To-Go program?

A:  If you do not participate in the meal plan, you may use a To-Go container as many times as you want, during To-Go hours, but you will need to pay for each meal you take. Meal-plan participants may use the To-Go program once per day, again during To-Go hours, for no extra charge.

Q: Can I eat in the dining area if I use my To-Go container?

A: We respectfully ask that you refrain from sitting in the dining area to preserve the intent of the program.

Q: What if I want to sit down for a meal and use my To-Go container for a meal later?

A: You will be charged for two meals.

Q: Can I use my own container?

A: No. Only the To-Go container provided by IUPUI Food Services can be used to participate in the program.

Q: So do I just walk in with my container and head straight for the food line?

A: No. To maintain healthy food and safety standards, you must always get a new To-Go container from the cashier (even if you haven't used the one you have). Please notify a cashier of your intent to carry out using the To-Go container and exchange your used container for a clean one.

Q: Is the container microwaveable?

A: Yes.

Q: Whom do I contact for more information about this To-Go program?

A: You may ask any cashier or manager at Tower Dining about this program. In addition, please feel free to call Jared Mahnensmith at 317-274-3191 or by email.

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