Skip navigation
5 Things
food-delivery-robots.jpg Chesky_W / iStock / Getty Images Plus
Meal delivery robots now part of community life around BGSU campus plus four other things you may have missed.

5 coronavirus things: Catering firms and robots fill the need in a remote work and learning world

This and college dining adapting with expanded services and more retail options are some of the stories you may have missed recently regarding the COVID-19 crisis.

In this special edition of 5 Things, Food Management highlights five things you may have missed recently about developments regarding coronavirus and its impact on onsite dining.

Here’s your list for today:

  1. Meal delivery robots now part of community life around BGSU campus

The 40 Starship Technologies meal delivery robots introduced last spring to the Bowling Green State University (BGSU) campus and the surrounding community in Ohio have become a common part of the civic environment after having made more than 100,000 deliveries to both on-campus and off-campus customers. At its peak, dining services was averaging about 1,000 deliveries a day with the robots, says Michael Paulus, BGSU’s director of dining services, and estimates that there could be 1,500 to 1,700 daily deliveries on- and off-campus this spring semester. The program, reportedly the first to extend robot delivery beyond a university campus, won an FM Best Concept Award last year.

Read more: ‘Cute little things’

  1. Catering to remote workers is a growing business in the Bay Area

Restaurants and catering companies that used to serve offices in California’s Bay Area and were thus hit hard by COVID-related closures and work-from-home policies have been adjusting by offering individual delivered meals and snacks as well as virtual cooking classes complete with grocery delivery.

“Companies that had a cafeteria, or companies who had no food program—as their employees come back, food is becoming more and more important as an incentive,” notes the head of one such catering firm, Lamont Perriman of Montperi Catering in Oakland. “In the post-COVID world...what we’re seeing is less employees [in the office] but a higher adoption of food as a benefit by companies.”

Read more: Bay Area corporate dining didn't disappear. Caterers now deliver the same lunches to employees at home

  1. Boston College expands spring dining options

Boston College Dining Services is ready to expand their campus locations and food options for the spring semester, according to Beth Emery, director of BC Dining. The additions include leaving the three main dining halls open for in-person dining, continuing a New York-style pizza delivery program was popular with students during its initial trial run following Thanksgiving Break and a new customizable deli station at the Eagle’s Nest venue that can be accessed through the GET Mobile app.

“We plan to open Late Night the week of Feb. 15,” Emery adds, “[and] we hope to open the Market at Corcoran in early March to offer Starbucks, grab-and-go [options], and grocery items.”

Read more: Boston College Kicks Off The Spring Semester By Expanding Dining Options

  1. Zero-emission electric buses deliver thousands of meals for school district

A fleet of four electric buses delivers around 9,000 meals twice a week to food-insecure families at 22 distribution sites in the Ann Arbor Public Schools in Michigan. While many students remain in remote learning, the district has made the most of some of its new fleet of electric buses to deliver meals to families in need. The zero-emission buses are expected to save nearly 490 tons of greenhouse gas emissions during their lifetime and offer schools more than 40% in savings over time on fuel and maintenance compared to traditional buses, according to vendor DTE Energy.

Read more: Electric buses being deployed by Ann Arbor Public Schools to deliver meals to community

  1. UNC increases number of retail swipes on meal plans for the spring

The University of North Carolina students will have more PLUS swipes for the spring semester on their meal plans, which allow them to use their meal plans to eat combo meals at campus retail locations, Carolina Dining Services has announced. The move is another indication of how college dining has been moving to more emphasis on retail and away from traditional all-you-care-to-eat dining during the COVID period.

Read more: Carolina Dining Services increases PLUS swipe totals on student meal plans

Bonus: Sodexo acquires Nourish Inc., expands with Good Eating Co., attempts to help B&I dining stay relevant in ‘work-from-anywhere’ world

Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]

TAGS: Coronavirus
Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.