Dining Services received a grant for $50,000 to fund a dish conveyor belt in the North Campus Diner. This renovation was part of the department’s switch to “anytime dining.” In anytime dining, students have unlimited access to all three residential dining halls (replacing the point-based plans with an all-your-care-to-eat setup). Disposable products have been eliminated from the dining halls completely. In the past, 6.3 million disposable products from the dining halls ended up in the waste stream and as landfill trash. The dish conveyor belt helps facilitate an easy transition to disposable-free dining and assists in making composting easier.
With this, students place their plates and cups with leftovers onto the conveyor belt, which then travels to the kitchen to have all food composted and all dishes and utensils washed. Collected compost is hauled to the Prince George's County Western Branch Composting Facility to be turned into LeafGro Gold, which is then used at the Terp Farm to nourish growing vegetable plants for on-campus use.
The grant assisted Dining Services in transforming food service on campus. In the first year of the anytime dining program, Dining Services increased compost collection by 48% and recycling by 20%.