By Chin Yi Oh | Echo
Creative Dining Services strives to bring new and exciting changes onto campus this semester. Some of the notable changes include a new app, a new executive head chef and meal swipes for the LaRita Boren Campus Center.
The app, which can replace the use of the student ID for meals, is called Eatable and is free on the App Store and Google Play.
"(The app) works through Bluetooth; it's supposed to be running in the background on your phone, (so) you don't necessarily have to have it up on your phone," said Director of Dining Services Nate Haugh. "It's supposed to pick up when you walk up to the register and your face pops up, that way our cashier (knows) who to check in. There's also a function on the app that has a QR code that is basically your ID in a QR code form, so just in case there's something wrong with the Bluetooth, they can just scan your phone. "
Even though students don't need to pull up their phones or ID cards, students still need to wait in line to allow staff to make sure that everyone is checking in.
The app makes things hands-free and more convenient, as it will be a lot quicker than handing someone your ID, swiping it and handing it back. However, the option of swiping students in with the ID will always be available.
"Stephen Olson, the VP of Finance (and Business), came to us and asked if there was a way for us to have an app or something that could tell students how many dining dollars they have left and how many meals they have left, not just students, but also faculty and staff," Haugh said. "(This is because) one issue at Boren is that faculty and staff are in line to pay for their food and they get to the register and they realize that they don't have enough dining dollars on their cards. Then they have to add more and it slows down the process, so this is a way of telling people where they stand quickly and easily."
One of the cool features on the app is you can find out how many dining dollars you have left and how many meals have been used. However, the app currently only shows the meal swipes for the Hodson Dining Commons, so students have to keep track of how many swipes are used in the Campus Center. Dining Services is working with Lucova, the system supplier, to put in separate numbers for meal swipes.
Included in the app is the mobile menu and events, which inform students on the menu of the day and to stay updated on upcoming events.
"There is also a feedback feature where you can send me a feedback directly on the app, if it's working correctly . . . and I can reply through this and you'll get a text message," Haugh said. "So, (there is) instant feedback . . ."
Dining Services is looking at implementing mobile orders at the Campus Center, possibly at the end of this semester or the beginning of the fall semester. They hope students will be able to pre-order certain items on the app, like Chick-fil A or Emma & Charlie's and be able to pick it up without having to wait for it to be made.
According to Marketing Coordinator Rebekah Stargel, a lot of students have downloaded the app, but are not using it because of the bugs. However, Dining Services cannot fix the bugs if students don't keep using the app so she encourages them to.
"(We hope) students will be patient as this is a very new system for Dining Services, our cashiers and even the students," Stargel said. "There is a learning curve all the way around and a little grace will go a long way."
Dining Services want to always be changing, keeping up with the new trends in food and respond to students' feedback. Haugh said they have gotten a lot of feedback about "Uncrustables" at the Campus Center, so they will be bringing it back.
Another new feature from Dining Services is each student now gets five meal swipes a week for the Campus Center from Monday to Friday. The change is due to the high number of students requiring meal transfers and the students' desire to choose where they want to eat. The meal swipes is available for use up until midnight for late night meals as well.