Innovation Isn’t Just For The Classroom - What Foodservice Directors Can Do To Advance Campus Dining Services
With technology continually shaping higher education, it should come as no surprise that the same level of innovation found in college and university classrooms, is simultaneously impacting their foodservice landscape. Between traditional dining halls, retail outlets, concessions and catering, the need to not only efficiently manage campus-wide food operations, but do so in a way that also appeals to tech-savvy students is a must.
Unlike previous generations, today’s higher-learners, which consist predominately of Millennials and Generation Z-ers, have grown up using the internet and advanced tech like smart phones and tablets in almost every aspect of their lives. Whether it’s researching information for a paper, looking at reviews to find food or connecting over social media, technology is an integral part of a college student’s day-to-day. Additionally, the prevalence and influence of technology has also helped faculty, staff and students outside of these younger generations to utilize the power that technology can provide, especially when it comes to education.
Now how does this exactly impact foodservice?
First of all, gone are the days of microwaving meals and eating ramen. Students now have a much more diverse and customizable palette due to the multitude of options available at their fingertips. Meaning campuses need to provide more variety and more opportunities of choice for these refined eaters. Moreover, with the near 50% increase in food allergies among children within the last 20 years1, foodservice directors must also consider specific diet orders like gluten-free, nut-free and vegan to accommodate the growing number of students entering college campuses with dietary restrictions.
Secondly, because technology is integrated into so much of our daily routines, the influence of outside tech companies such as Yelp, Amazon and Uber Eats have set a standard for what students expect when it comes to their campus dining experience. Things like easily viewable options online, faster order-to-ready times and the opportunity to rate/review meals are all influencing factors for individuals when choosing a place to eat, and doing so while on campus is no different.
So what exactly can foodservice departments do?
By automating manual processes like food inventory and product usage, higher education foodservice departments can not only prevent spoilage, but ensure departments effectively offer diverse options without wasting more food or money through accurate forecasting. As well as easily connect campus wide dining with one localized system that makes sharing recipes incredibly simple (and convenient!).
In addition, leveraging automation through powerful technology like digital menu boards that fully integrate with diet office software, students can easily see up-to-date menu choices, allergen information and specific diets, all in one engaging screen. Leading to quicker ordering times, a more professional looking eatery and empowered students who have the ability to make informed meal choices. Not to mention, moving to a paperless menu can help departments save time and money by not printing and stocking menus on a weekly basis.
Lastly, giving students the ability to see daily menu offers from the convenience of their smart phone or laptop can help drive traffic, reduce line queues and increase revenue.
What are you waiting for?
When it comes to providing higher ed with a quality dining experience, the possibilities are endless, especially with automation on your side! As you start incorporating it into your workflow, you’ll not only experience powerful benefits, but also showcase your operation is as innovative as the classes your customers take!
1Petti, Laura. 2016. How a warming globe and being ‘too clean’ are hammering allergy sufferers. cnbc.com. 10 September. https://www.cnbc.com/2016/09/09/allergies-are-on-the-rise-and-here-are-three-reasons-why.html
Article by: Jennifer Higgins, Marketing Specialist II; Fusion, 4th Quarter, 2018