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. Sodexo to deploy robots for patient support roles in healthcare environments
Sodexo is expanding its partnership with tech firm Bear Robotics to use the latter's indoor self-driving service robots to perform routine tasks run healthcare facilities. "The ability of these robots to navigate complex indoor environments with precision and reliability is remarkable and we are thrilled to explore the efficiencies in operations that will result,” said Molly Matthews, CEO of Sodexo's U.S. Healthcare & Seniors unit. Strategic pilots of the program are slated to begin next year.
2. Report examines college student app use and payment habits
Nearly 85% of college students use their smartphone to make payments and 95% use at least one app to interact with their institution, according to the 2023 Student Financial Experience Report from TouchNet, a provider of commerce and credentials solutions for the higher education market. Among the report's findings was that only 10% of students use their campus card to pay for on-campus dining while roughly 25% use their dining plan and 20% use credit or debit cards.
3. Chipotle founder plans to open robot-powered meatless restaurants
Chipotle Founder/ex-CEO Steve Ells is launching a new startup called Kernel early next year that will serve meat-free sandwiches in restaurants powered by robots and skeleton crews, with the first location expected to open in Manhattan followed by at least a dozen more throughout New York over the next two years. Each store will be manned by three people who will team up with robots in making items such as meat-free burgers, faux chicken sandwiches, salads, acai bowls and sides such as cucumbers with wild rice.
4. Feedback unit lets students give campus dining a happy (or sad) face
Campus Dining at California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo has implemented the HappyorNot Machine in its Vista Grande Dining Hall to get feedback from students about their dining experiences. With a set of emoticon faces ranging from happy to sad, each participant who chose to do the survey could choose a face and provide written feedback. Campus Dining says it has received more than 800 responses on the system and plans to consider adding more machines in other campus locations.
5. Program uses AI to adjust menu prices by tracking ingredient costs
Cape Cod restaurant Strangers & Saints is using an AI-powered computer program called Stellar Menus created by co-owner Steven Latasa-Nicks to tracks ingredient prices in real-time and recommend changing prices for an individual dish containing them to reflect those costs. This has allowed Strangers & Saints to adjust menu pricing more efficiently and avoid the tough choice between raising all prices or simply taking the most expensive dishes off the menu.
Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]