Due to the significant cost required to stock and maintain UConn dining halls, Dining Services has decided to take measures to reduce expenses. In the eyes of students, one of the most ghastly of these measures is the substitution of name brand cereals for Post Consumer Brands. Thousands of students were forced to bid farewell to Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Lucky Charms in favor of Cinnamon Toasters and Marshmallow Mateys in the name of cost and sustainability.
So how did Post sway the university? They brought an impressive offer to the table which included cereal dispensers at no additional cost, and all packaging has been condensed to one box with two bags, instead of 16 boxes of cereal. According to Assistant Director of Residential Dining Michael White, this will improve sustainability.
Since the switch from brand names to Post, many students have expressed discontent with the new cereal selection, claiming that they taste different. Some have also noted that the selection of cereals has decreased from 35 last year to 20 this year, with a possible reduction in the number of “healthy” cereals. However, the decisions regarding which types of cereal to keep and replace were made following a survey of 150 students that was taken last year. As a result, some popular cereals like Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes were kept in brand name form. Even after these attempted concessions, many students are still audibly disappointed.
Of course, it is fair to say that students may be overreacting to these changes. However, it may also be the case that Dining Services could be employing a variety of alternative methods that would be much more effective in reducing costs and improving sustainability.
For instance, it is difficult to walk into a dining hall around peak meal time and not notice the use of disposable plastic cutlery and paper cups. While it is understandable that there is a reduction in available eating utensils during the dining halls’ busier hours, it would be both more cost effective and more sustainable to invest in larger quantities of reusable dishware.
But in reality, the largest issue facing dining halls is waste. Uneaten food that is thrown away likely accounts for more wasted expenses and causes more environmental impact than Honey Nut Cheerios ever could. UConn as a whole should focus on the real issues that concern our meal programs. In the meantime, these small cereal substitutes are merely patchwork fixes that are hiding the true problems at hand.
Alex Oliveira is a staff columnist for the Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.