Culinary Services employees react to proposed California plastic straw law

Ordering a drink and receiving it without a straw is becoming more popular at restaurant venues throughout California. 

Sonoma State University is beginning to initiate steps in regards to a recent bill, Assembly Bill 1884, proposed by California Assemblyman Ian Calderon. This bill, according to California Legislative Information, would prohibit sit-down food facilities from providing single-use plastic straws to customers, unless specifically requested by the customer.

Sonoma State already has compostable straws in use. However, the school wants to soon enact changes relevant to this bill to further the awareness of sustainability on campus. 

“Our straws have been compostable all this time, but it is still a straw and the intent is that the processing of making a straw is a big deal too,” said Nancy Keller, Sonoma State’s Director of Culinary Services. “Our goal is to try to get people to be aware about straws, and really to have a situation where if you have to work at it a little bit, you might think twice.” 

The school will roll out the goal of not providing straws unless requested by summertime, and be fully in effect by the fall semester in all venues on Sonoma State’s campus.

A concern voiced by employees of Charlie Brown’s Cafe pertains to smoothies and the amount of people who would have to ask for a straw after ordering one. 

Compostable straws will still be provided for the smoothies, as well as for the ice cream in Lobo’s bar, and if implemented, the new sushi concept with Boba. All other drinks will require students to request straws, and they will switch straws given out for those drinks from compostable straws to paper straws. 

“What we’re trying to do is get rid of the straws that we have,” Keller said. “If we’re going to be handing someone a straw, what we’re realizing is that we’re going to need a straw that is covered in paper because we’re touching it.” 

Keller said Culinary Services has not changed anything in regards to their straw distribution, but that they are soon going to move on to paper straws. They are moving step by step through each one of the operations and taking a look at it, according to Keller.

Another concern for workers in Culinary Services is in regards to adding more chaos to already busy venues. 

Ana Jaimie, a senior and student lead at Charlie Brown’s cafe, thinks this new straw law will impact customer service at the on-campus restaurants. 

“I think it might make everything a lot busier because it’s already really slammed with our rushes,” Jaimie said. “So I think it is a lot more convenient the way it is at the moment because if we have to stop what we’re doing to give a customer a straw it’ll just slow everything down more.”

“I think eliminating straws would help the environment in that aspect and the concept is a great idea,” said Angel Galindo, a sophomore. “It also may cause disturbance with some customers who expect straws in their drinks.” 

Keller said there will be a learning curve to this new implementation, both on the side of the workers as well as the customers themselves. The main priority is to do the best to support the environment while also making sure they are serving their customers.