Asked what they see as the biggest changes ahead for the college and university dining segment, consultants and foodservice directors generally agree on two things: The pace of change will only accelerate, and technology will fuel many of the biggest changes ahead. Here’s what some see in their crystal balls:

  • “Today, we have beautiful buildings, exciting chef-driven menus and an incredible array of choices for students. In 10 years, it’s just going to be more exciting and as big a contrast to what we’re doing today as our current operations are to the steamtables and straight-line cafeterias that were the norm 10 years ago.”
    – Peter Testory, Director of Dining, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • “We are looking at opportunities for robotics to be used in our program in the future. The industry isn’t there yet, but I’m confident that technological innovation and ongoing labor challenges will make robotics a viable alternative in the future. I also anticipate the rapid growth of delivery, perhaps via drones, and more advanced development of technologies that enable us to provide information to students in ways that they want it and that guide their custom, unique choices.”
    – Eric Montell, executive director, Residential & Dining Enterprises, Stanford University
  • “In 10 to 15 years, more schools will adopt a social-architecture approach to developing their campus dining experiences. As the proliferation of electronics, virtual reality goggles and apps to connect to while you’re sitting alone in your room with the lights out continues, creating social spaces for dining and engagement will become even more important to student success.”
    – David Porter, CEO, Porter Khouw Consulting
  • “I predict that in the future we’ll see traditional serveries focused on made-to-order meals and socializing but also newer, centralized kitchen facilities designed exclusively for processing all of the online orders that are going out for delivery or being staged for pickup. I also see drone delivery, new unmanned grab-and-go venues and the growth of automatic, wireless scanning and payment of selections made by customers as they visit campus dining venues.”
    – Adam Dean, senior associate/Management Advisory Services, Cini-Little Inc.
  • “Mobility will continue to be a big future focus, both in terms of technological innovations that make it easier, faster and more convenient for students to access our offerings and information, but also in terms of platforms we’re using, such as food trucks. Everything that we do in the future will continue to be focused on driving efficiency, talent and quality around what has become a very exciting culture of food on campus.”
    – Steve Mangan, Director of Dining, University of Michigan

For more insights on college and univesrity trends, read FE&S' Feeding A Better College Experience story.