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Aramark-VCU-Harvest-Table-babylon-Microfarms-full-of-greens-scaled.jpeg Babylon Micro-Farms
Babylon Micro-Farm vertical farm unit in place at Aramark's campus dining operation at Virginia Commonwealth University.

5 tech things: Aramark installs high-tech micro-farm units on campuses

This and a student-created off-campus meal plan app debuting at University of Oregon are some of the tech-related developments you may have missed recently.

In this special edition of its 5 Things series, Food Management highlights five recent technology-related developments affecting the foodservice world.

Here’s your list for today:

  1. Aramark installs high-tech micro-farm units on campuses

High-tech indoor micro-farm firm Babylon Micro-Farms is partnering with Aramark and Aramark university partners Virginia Commonwealth University, University of South Carolina, Lander University and Western Carolina University— which have a combined campus population of around 90,000 students—to install one or two Babylon micro farms at each campus. The schools plan on using the micro farms to increase student engagement through activities such as having students take ownership of a row of plants within the farm, sharing recipes with students that incorporate farm produce and educating students on what the micro farms are and their impact.

Read more: Babylon Micro-Farms Partners With Aramark and Top Southern Universities; Increasing Student Engagement in a Healthy Way

  1. Student-developed off-campus meal plan app debuts at U-Oregon

The Waddle Meal Plan app developed by two University of Oregon (UO) business students accepts fund uploads from students and their parents that can be used at participating area food establishments while also allowing parents and guardians to track how the money is spent. Named New Venture of the Year by the university, the app is free to student users while participating restaurants pay a small fee and has already seen 23 restaurants and 450 students sign up this fall.

Read more: UO Business Students Launch Waddle Meal Plan App

  1. Restaurateur expects robot servers to save labor costs

Connecticut’s first robotic server is set to debut in New London, where Shaking Crab is planning to deploy as many as five robotic “servers” programmed to bring food out to tables and dirty dishes back to the dishwasher station. Gulshan Soni, the restaurant’s owner, said it’s been a challenge to hire the number of people necessary to run the 260-seat operation ahead of its soft opening and he estimates that “In less than one year, our costs [of purchasing the robots] are going to be covered.”

Read more: Robotic servers will lend ‘helping hand’ to short-staffed New London restaurant

  1. Jamba Juice debuts robotic smoothie station in California mall

Smoothie concept Jamba Juice and foodservice robotics firm Blendid have opened their second Jamba by Blendid automated kiosk unit in a the Stonewood Center shopping mall in California, where it will operate seven days a week following the mall hours and offer seven smoothie selections, as well as Jamba’s popular Boosts. In their press announcement, the partner companies describe the move "the next step in the effort to open Jamba by Blendid kiosks in additional types of venues—from big box retailers and shopping malls to gyms, hospitals, and college campuses.

Read more: Jamba And Blendid Announce The Opening Of Second Robotic Smoothie Kiosk At The Stonewood Center In Downey, California

  1. Wendy’s to use Google Cloud AI to create new service approaches

Wendy's  has announced a partnership with Google Cloud through which Wendy's intends to leverage Google Cloud's data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and hybrid cloud tools to create new ways customers can order food in the drive thru, on their mobile devices and through other touchpoints. "We believe Google Cloud's AI/ML and data analytics solutions will enable Wendy's to innovate ways to create fast, frictionless, and fun interactions that redefine the way customers visit and enjoy our restaurants, says Wendy's Chief Information Officer Kevin Vasconi.

Read more: Wendy's and Google Cloud Partner to Enhance the Wendy's Restaurant Experience

Bonus: New cafeteria at Travelers HQ offers a dazzling food hall experience

Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]

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