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:
- Robot food delivery comes to Ohio State's 60,000+ students
A partnership between online meal order platform Grubhub and autonomous vehicles developer Yandex Self-Driving Group is rolling out meal delivery at its first campus client location and it’s a big one—The Ohio State University (OSU) and its 60,000+ enrollment. The service will allow customers on the Columbus campus to order their favorite foods from on-campus dining locations via the Grubhub app and have them delivered by one of 50 Yandex robots between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. seven days a week. Students can request robots to deliver food to every residence hall on campus as well as Thompson Library and Bricker Hall.
"We pride ourselves on offering an exceptional dining experience to students, and we're always looking to provide new ways to make getting food on campus as convenient as possible," said Zia Ahmed, OSU's senior director of dining services.
- Grubhub deal with CampusCash extends its off-campus meal services
Grubhub has partnered with Transact Campus to include Grubhub’s more than 300,000 restaurants nationwide in Transact’s CampusCash off-campus merchant program. The partnership will extend Grubhub’s restaurant network to Transact’s CampusCash program and is expected to enable broader student spending off campus by allowing them to use their university-branded CampusCash account while they are away from campus, even in other parts of the country.
“Universities had to quickly adapt technologies to keep operations running smoothly over the last 18 months as they pivoted to hybrid learning and contactless dining experiences,” says Brian Madigan, vice president of campus and corporate partners at Grubhub. “We’re excited to partner with Transact to help university partners stay nimble with continued flexible meal models and expand the off-campus dining options available to students, while driving orders to local restaurants in their communities.”
- Online menu platform personalizes meal service for K-12 district
Parents and students in the Fayette County Schools in Georgia can now get detailed nutritional information about the meals served at schools using a new online menu platform called MealViewer, which lists weekly breakfast, lunch and snack offerings for each month that include photos, calorie counts and other nutrition details, including information on potential food allergens. More than simply an online menu, MealViewer also lets users set up a personalized profile for future reference and to receive meal alerts, create a nutrition calculator for choosing items with desired elements, rate meals and provide feedback.
- Study examines customer attitudes to face recognition tech used by retailers
Face-recognition technology is being widely being adopted by retailers to prevent fraud and theft, but is there a customer backlash coming? Research firm Piplsay polled 31,184 individuals aged 18 years and older in early August and found that 38% opposed the use of the technology either because it is an invasion of privacy or can be inaccurate or discriminatory. Majorities said retailers should inform customers in advance that they are being tracked (69%) and should provide an opt-out option for customers who don't want their data stored (65%).
- QR Codes bring online ordering on premise in safe, flexible way
The coronavirus pandemic ushered in the widespread use of QR codes in foodservice and there are indications the technology will stick around to solve emerging issues such as labor availability and product shortages. “They’re able to adjust their menu offerings on the fly to account for elements like inflation, fluctuations in food and commodities prices and other variables,” explains Raleigh Harbour, president of link management service Bitly, which has seen a 750% increase in QR code downloads over the last 18 months. The use of QR codes also helps bring online ordering on premise instead of solely being tied to delivery and takeout transactions, a potentially important consideration for venues worried about the impact of too much takeaway on building community, such as college and corporate campuses.
Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]