Kelsey Bishop, a finance and entrepreneurship major at Boston College, told The Boston Globe she thinks it’s entirely normal to sit in her morning Financial Policy class and tap her order into an app for a veggie omelet for pickup at the school’s Hillside Cafeteria. The senior will use the app again to skip the line and order soup a few hours later. And sometimes, picking up food can seem like too much work, so after late nights out she and her roommates will tap their phone and, voila, breakfast is delivered from the dining hall to her dorm—like room service in a four-star hotel, minus the linen-draped tray.
The Boston Globe column goes on to report just how college meal services have evolved to compete in this food-obsessed world. From Amherst to Cambridge, they write, there are gourmet to-go meal cases and online ordering for the dining hall grill stations.
At Boston University, a school-sanctioned startup called Stoovy Snacks is taking on Grubhub, its distinguishing factor simply is that its couriers are BU students with campus ID cards, meaning they can cover the “last mile” and make deliveries directly to students’ doors.
“Any other food delivery can come to the lobby, but they can’t get past security. We’re offering door-to-door service,” said Aaron Halford, a Boston University sophomore who started the business last fall, inspired in part by his own lethargy. “I think there are a lot of wealthy, lazy kids that don’t want to go down the elevator to pick up food,” he told the newspaper.
The average school, according to the Hechinger Report, a nonprofit media outlet covering inequality in education, charges $4,500 for a meal plan for an academic year, or about 70% more per day than if students bought and prepared their own meals.
UMass has introduced fresh dinners when they realized that 11,000 of the school’s students live off campus and weren’t buying dinners on campus. They began offering heat-and-eat meals much as supermarket’s prepared foods cases through the meal plan. The university also has introduced holiday meal kits, selling boxes stuffed with locally sourced fixings for Thanksgiving and other holidays that can feed a small party for $99.95.
Chef’d in 2017 partnered with Spoon University to create a line of meals targeting the dorm room diner. They now serve more than 300 campuses nationwide.
It's a program that could have been produced with supermarkets.