“Late Plates” replace to-go containers in dining halls

Oct. 31, 2018, 12:02 a.m.

Dining halls no longer offer take-out containers to students looking to take food to-go — and some dining halls now have signs that read: “To-go containers and Ziploc bags are not allowed.”

In lieu of to-go containers, dining halls offer a “To Go Meal” for lunch and dinner, as well as a “Late Plate” for dinner, if students are unavailable during dining hall hours. These meals must be preordered 24 hours in advance, with the Dining Hall Manager or online.

Though signs prohibiting to-go containers were put up this year, Residential & Dining Enterprises (R&DE) spokesperson Jocelyn Breeland noted that the practice is not new.  

“Stanford Dining has, for years, discouraged students from taking containers of food from the dining halls,” she wrote in an email to The Daily. “This helps us reliably ensure that the full array of options we offer is available to all diners.”

Breeland emphasized “continuous dining” in Arrillaga Family Dining Commons and Florence Moore Dining, which each have half-hour breaks between breakfast, lunch and dinner during the week.

However, many students say the inability to access or use to-go containers is inconvenient.  

For Viola Li J.D. ’19, the availability of take-out containers often means the difference between using her meal plan or dining with friends. Since many graduate students don’t have meal plans, Li doesn’t have the option of sitting in the dining halls and eating with other students.

“Especially in Stern or Wilbur, it feels more like that’s [the undergraduates’] community, and I’m just here to get my food,” Li said.

Li previously relied on the to-go containers to grab her food and eat with her roommates, but since the implementation of the new policy, she’s had to change her routine.

“I’ve started cooking a lot more, which is something very different for me,” she said. “And I’ve also been taking groups of my friends to come with me to the dining hall and swiping them in.”

Varsity tennis player Caroline Lampl ’19 said she is often too busy to eat at one of the dining halls.

“As student athlete[s] we’re on very busy schedules, and there are times when it’s necessary to grab lunch for a quick second, and sometimes we don’t have time to sit down at a dining hall.” she said.

Lampl believes that R&DE should adjust their policy so students can eat on the go.

“It’s not just student athletes,” she said. “Everyone’s in a rush to get places, everyone has a busy schedule, and [R&DE] should take that into consideration.”

Kaitlyn Choe ’22 said she feels that she wastes meal swipes because she isn’t always able to eat in dining halls. Instead, she buys snacks to keep her sustained throughout the day.

Some students said that reusable tupperware is the best option for R&DE to supply for students.

“If there were tupperware allowed, I’d have the opportunity to bring food into my room even after the dining hall closed,” said Nyana’aar Kuol ’22.

A suggestion Li has from her undergraduate experience at the University of Virginia is reusable to-go containers supplied by the dining halls and returned by students the next day.

“You would borrow one for the day, fill it up and then you would bring it back the next day and exchange it for a clean one, and it just went through their regular dishwashing service,” Li said.


Contact Alex Chau at alexchau ‘at’ stanford.edu.

Alex Chau '22 is a writer for the Campus Life beat. She is from New York and is interested in studying History and Political Science. Contact her at alexchau 'at' stanford.edu.

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