Efficiency, quality and variety are key to keeping students happy in college dining halls, where lines can stretch during peak times, and almost everyone is in a hurry. The typical solution is a buffet line, but that can result in bland and boring food.
Sodexo partnered with NEXTEP to develop Food on Demand, a computerized, self-service ordering system that provides restaurant-style dining experiences for college students.
"We wanted to provide students with the option of self-ordering food, just the way they like it and when they want it," said Jeff Pente, Sodexo's senior director of brand management for residential dining, campus services. "We needed a solution that was extremely fast, reliable and flexible."
With Food on Demand, students use touchscreen kiosks that feature an extensive made-to-order menu.
The menu can be customized by foodservice staff, using more than 400 recipes selected specifically for the Food on Demand program. Authorized personnel can change menu selections quickly and easily from any desktop.
"The biggest benefits are that the system has reduced wait times to just a few minutes and food waste to almost zero because the food is no longer prepared in big batches," Pente said. "Also, with the text notification, students can wait almost anywhere and study or visit while they wait."
Sodexo and NEXTEP are fine-tuning an application that will allow users to order via devices, such as smartphones.
"Thanks to NEXTEP, we really are taking the college dining experience to an entirely new level," said Pente. "Food on Demand is making an amazing difference in college dining rooms."