- The Washington Times - Monday, September 21, 2009

Do trays go with that shake?

Trayless cafeterias are trending on college campuses.

Students on the East and West coasts and in between are trying to balance plates of nachos on one hand and plates of pizza and containers of beverages on the other as college cafeterias try to become more eco-dining friendly.

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The schools are also doing a balancing act amid economic challenges - trying to save on water and other utilities with one hand and reducing food waste with the other.

Aramark Higher Education, the dining-service company, says about 60 percent of the 600 campuses it serves have joined the trayless movement.

Both public colleges, such as San Diego State, and private schools, including Catholic University in Washington, are participating.

Student reaction is mixed. While complaints at Northern Michigan University led officials there to suspend the trayless program, San Diego State, which switched to trayless two years ago, said its food costs have been trimmed about 2 percent, or $65,000. The University of California, Santa Cruz said it has seen savings of $100,000.

Going trayless means the tables have to be cleaned more frequently, but that’s par for the eco-friendly course, officials said.

PTA names famous mom urban ambassador

Deloris Jordan is an author and sought-after speaker who has dedicated her life to putting family first, especially on behalf of her five children - including NBA legend Michael Jordan.

She’s also a “PTA mom” again, as ambassador for the National PTA’s Urban Family Engagement Initiative. The goal of the program is to unite and lift the voices in urban school districts and to help engage families in their children’s academic lives. Targeted cities include Albuquerque, Chicago, Las Vegas, Miami and Philadelphia.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with the National PTA to make parents more aware and become a bigger role in the lives of their children,” says Mrs. Jordan, author of “Family First.” “There is nothing more important than the success of our children, and it is up to us to create a path for them to succeed.”

PTA Chief Executive Officer Byron V. Garrett says, “We’re extremely excited that Mrs. Jordan has joined us in this effort. Her passion for and commitment to underserved and underrepresented communities will no doubt help us tremendously in our efforts toward engaging urban families.”

Hip-hop and academia

“Getting Real: The Future of Hip-Hop Studies Scholarship” was first in line for the fall lecture series at the University of Wisconsin.

The seminar on Monday, which discussed the relevance of hip-hop in academia, was led by author Jeff Chang, “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation,” and Duke University professor Mark Anthony Neal.

Mr. Neal said many key historic events in modern America, including the 2008 presidential election, were due in large part to hip-hop and its unseen elements.

Mr. Chang said, “Hip-hop changes the way you think.”

According to Mr. Chang, other cultures already realize this and are capitalizing on studying it from a sociological point of view.

“The governments of Cuba and Brazil are funding hip-hop studies courses because it is important to their nation’s development,” Mr. Chang said.

College should expose hip-hop as a political tool, Mr. Neal and Mr. Chang said.

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