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New Waste Reduction Initiative Requires Students to Eat Out of Dining Hall Workers’ Cupped Hands


Photo by The Daily Pennsylvanian

Penn’s sustainability team recently unveiled a new waste reduction plan that will require all students to eat their meals directly out of the hands of the dining hall staff.

“After the implementation of the reusable Green2Go containers in 2014, Penn saw a significant decrease in dining hall waste,” explained Sustainability Director Natalie Morris. “But still, hundreds of paper plates and plastic utensils are being discarded at every meal, leading to excessive amounts of trash being sent to landfills.”

To combat this wastefulness once and for all, the team will remove all plates, cups, and silverware from every dining hall, effective immediately.

Morris went on to say that this initiative applies to all types of food and drink, including soups, salads, coffee, and ice cream. “Even the 1920 Commons Starbucks baristas will be making all drinks directly into their cupped hands; sizes of drinks will now be determined by the hand sizes of the available staff.” Since pouring hot liquid onto skin would be a safety hazard, all hot drinks will now be served at a lukewarm temperature.

Students are encouraged to try out a variety of techniques in order to make the transition as smooth as possible. With soups and drinks, for example, Morris recommends leaning over and slurping through pursed lips. She also permits sucking the staff member’s fingers clean in order to get every last tasty drop.

“Hands are nature’s silverware. We hope that other universities will be quick to follow our example.”