The University of Connecticut’s Dining Services has brought back the Green Piece program, allowing students to purchase food using a to-go container at select retail locations.
Students who choose to purchase the container will be eligible to use it for meals at the Union Street Market, Earth, Wok & Fire and One Plate, Two Plates in the Student Union.
“We have the containers available in the Student Union in the Food Operations, so that’s the food court [USM, One Plate, Two Plates and Earth, Wok & Fire],” said Scott Hauver, the assistant director of Dining Services. “Whether it’s a salad, an entrée, sliders or a General Tso’s Bowl–all those items will fit into that container.”
The container is sustainable in that it’s composed of material that is both washable and able to be sanitized, which makes it easy to reuse, according to Hauver.
“It’s a container that is sustainable, meaning that it is made out of a material that we can wash and sanitize,” Hauver said. “It’s pretty good in terms of how it reduces waste. It uses less paper and plastic.”
When students and faculty are finished using their container, they can drop it in a return bin located outside USM for Dining Services staff to clean and sanitize, according to Dining Services’ website.
The container can be purchased for $5 at the retail dining locations in the Student Union. As an incentive for students and staff, each purchase made with the container allows for a discount of 50 cents off that purchase.
“In general, the way people participate is [that] we ask for $5…and that entitles them to a 50-cent discount on purchases when they use that container,” Hauver said.
For anyone who might be hesitant to purchase the container due to its $5 fee, Hauver says that a total of 10 purchases with the 50-cent discount would be equal to the value of the fee. Since there is no limit to the amount of purchases that can be made using the container, students and staff would, in a way, “make back their money” if they buy meals in the container more than 10 times, according to Hauver.
“So, in 10 visits, they make back their money,” Hauver said. “…In 10 purchases they would get their money back, but if they used it 20, 30, 50 times, they still get the 50 cents each time they use it. In that sense, it really doesn’t cost them anything as long as they use it [at least] 10 times.”
Hauver said another benefit to the program is that it allows people to contribute to making their community more sustainable.
“If you want to participate and be a part of the community that is creating a more sustainable group, then here’s one way to do that,” added Hauver. “We’re always looking for how we can do our part, and this is one of those things where there’s a way for us to do our part.”
The Green Piece program ran at UConn a few years ago but was discontinued during the pandemic, Hauver said. It opened at the beginning of the Fall 2022 semester and has no expected end date.
While students need to use cash or card when paying for the container itself, any meals which they purchase with the container can be paid for with dining plan points and flex passes.
More information regarding the program can be found on the Dining Services website.