three foil dishes filled with healthy food

The Growing Importance of Food Service Takeout for Colleges & Universities

These days, contactless takeout and delivery services are key phrases when discussing college students and food safety. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, higher education campuses across the country have been initiating touchless dining solutions to minimize the risk of person-to-person virus transmission while still providing students with nourishing meals.

While takeout and delivery services are the most popular contactless dining solutions at the moment, there are many touchless dining options campus leaders can introduce. Discover more below about the importance of balanced meals for students, why campuses are gravitating toward touchless dining solutions and how you can implement more touchless options at your institution.

The Importance of Providing Balanced Meals to Students

Figuring out a daily routine and regular eating schedule can be challenging for new college students. Even veteran students have to reconfigure their eating schedules each semester to fit with their classes. Amid juggling schoolwork, extracurriculars, social activities and other opportunities, college students can often neglect to eat well.

But college students need to prioritize eating healthy, balanced meals each day. Learning to eat well will boost their health and enhance their college experience overall. Specifically, here are three ways eating right can help college students excel:

1. Providing Extra Energy

The food students eat has a direct impact on their energy levels throughout the day. While eating junk food can result in depleted energy and a lack of focus, eating nutrient-rich foods can give students the energy they need to power through their day. A well-balanced diet will keep students energized and at their best throughout the day so they can keep up with their busy schedules.

College students can give their bodies the essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals they need by eating a diet mainly consisting of fresh fruit, veggies, whole grains and lean protein.

2. Boosting Brain Power

Of course, one of the main goals of every college student is passing their classes and getting good grades. Eating healthy, well-balanced meals can help college students achieve these goals by improving their memory, alertness and concentration. Certain foods can even have a significant impact on both short- and long-term brain function.

Specific brain-boosting foods will contain high amounts of vitamin E, B vitamins, healthy fats or omega fatty acids. Some examples of these foods include berries, broccoli, dark chocolate, nuts, seeds, oily fish and avocadoes.

3. Keeping Students Healthy & Happy

Opting for a diet full of fresh, nutritious foods will help college students preserve their physical health. When a student fuels up with the right foods, their body will be able to function at its best. Giving their body all the nutrients it needs will help a college student fend off illnesses, avoid developing chronic diseases and maintain a healthy weight.

Along with keeping students in good physical health, eating well can help them protect their mental health. Sticking to a diet composed of healthy food can set students up for fewer mood swings and even improve symptoms of anxiety and depression. Eating well can make students feel better overall, giving them a more positive, happier outlook on life.

College and university dining service coordinators can help students receive these benefits of healthy eating by making well-balanced meals easily accessible. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, extra steps may need to be taken to provide viable dining options to all students. College and university dining services can help students remain healthy and thriving during these times by incorporating safe and healthy food service takeout.

Now more than ever, college students need to keep their physical and mental health up. Offering quick, convenient and contactless takeout or delivery options can make eating right more manageable for students. They can then continue focusing on their studies instead of worrying about how to receive meals during the pandemic safely.

The Move to Touchless Dining Options

The Move to Touchless Dining Options

Much like the restaurant industry, college and university dining services are seeing an increased demand for safe, touchless dining options. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, students have been more aware of hand hygiene than ever and trying to cut down on the potential spread of germs by minimizing their contact with high-touch public surfaces.

In addition, many students remain slightly skeptical about human contact due to COVID-19. Grabbing a meal in a dining hall where hundreds of other students pass through does not appeal to many students right now, even if the dining hall has put social distancing measures in place. These concerns over health and safety have pushed campus leaders to come up with innovative solutions for safe dining.

To promote food safety and protect student health, campuses across the country have been integrating more and more touchless dining options into their regular food service operations. Many of these touch-free options involve takeout or delivery services. Some campuses allow students to preorder their meals online and pick them up at the dining hall when they’re ready instead of using the dining hall’s former high-touch buffet format.

When students order their food to-go or delivered to their door, they also get to avoid any potential crowds at the dining hall. Along with increased food safety, a campus dining center optimized for takeout orders offers speed and convenience, perfect for students with busy schedules.

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Why Your University Should Be Offering Touchless Dining Experiences

As more and more campuses for higher education move toward touchless dining options, you may want to consider introducing more contactless dining solutions on your campus. Here are some reasons your institution should offer its students touchless dining experiences:

  • Touchless dining is safer and healthier: By eliminating contact between students and food service workers, touchless dining promotes healthy hand hygiene and cuts down on the risk of a sickness getting spread from person to person.
  • Delivery is the new normal: Delivery is no longer a bonus perk for college and university campuses. Food delivery has steadily grown into a preferred option for many students. Some prospective students may even base their school selection on food service options, such as delivery.
  • Takeout options reduce dining hall congestion: More to-go orders mean fewer people eating in the dining center, which makes social distancing easier. Less congestion in the dining hall will also give staff members a more manageable workload and allow them to focus more on food preparation.
  • Delivery grants more time for studying: By saving students the time it takes to physically go to a dining center, delivery allows students to spend more time studying and concentrating on their assignments. Receiving their food in a quiet dorm room or other tranquil space instead of a noisy, crowded dining hall also gives students the opportunity to get schoolwork done as they eat if needed.

Considerations for Takeout & Delivery

Considerations for Takeout & Delivery

If you’re ready to start offering touchless takeout and delivery options on your campus, here are a few key considerations to contemplate when planning your to-go services:

  • Choose between in-house and third-party providers: The first decision you have to make regarding takeout is whether to partner with an outside provider or take care of deliveries on your own. Taking on deliveries in-house can be complicated to figure out logistically. Luckily, there are plenty of third-party apps and services for those who do not want to handle delivery options in-house.
  • Launch mobile ordering: Setting up mobile ordering is crucial for initiating successful takeout services. Mobile ordering is convenient for students and promotes contactless payment. Whether through your campus dining website or a third-party app, make sure there is a way for students to place their orders online, choose their pickup or delivery time and pay.
  • Train staff: Regardless of whether you choose to conduct in-house deliveries or work with a third-party provider, you will have to ensure each member of your staff knows how to properly handle a to-go order. Prepare your staff for how takeout orders may change their workflow and explain how offering to-go options will help students.
  • Think through delivery logistics: Consider whether deliveries on your campus would be best handled by car, moped, bike or on foot. The size of your school, its parking capacity and how pedestrian-friendly it is will determine your best course of action. Consider the convenience, cost, time and distance of each option before making your decision.

Safety Messages About Food Service Takeout to Include

If you do roll out a takeout and delivery service on your campus, you will need to convey some safety messages to the student body. These messages should explain to students how their food will be prepared and delivered. They should also reassure students that proper safety measures are being taken by the dining staff and inform students of any steps they need to take to ensure safety.

Some specific safety messages to emphasize include:

  • Social distancing: Make sure students realize pickup station workers and delivery workers will be practicing proper social distancing by keeping at least 6 feet between themselves and students whenever possible. Students should practice social distancing between their peers in any takeout lines, as well.
  • Employees’ health: Clearly communicate that all food service employees must be healthy to show up to work. Taking employees’ temperatures before the start of each shift can help prevent unintentionally spreading the coronavirus or any other illness.
  • Cleaning procedures: Explain that all cleaning methods used by campus dining services meet or exceed the recommendations set out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • Use of personal protective equipment: Make sure every employee wears the proper personal protective equipment (PPE), including disposable latex gloves and face coverings, when handling food. Encourage students to wear face coverings when picking up their food, as well.
  • Touchless pickup options: Provide students with touchless pickup options like curbside pickup where an employee will bring their order directly to their car so touching doors and entering the building isn’t necessary. For in-person pickups, offer touchless solutions like mobile payment to make the pickup as contactless as possible. Use signage to designate those areas.
  • Touchless delivery options: Offer to leave food deliveries on students’ doorsteps to make the transaction completely touchless. Put out messages about these options to increase awareness.
  • To-go container details: Package your takeout containers and delivery bags with tamper-proof seals to ensure students know their food has not been contaminated.


Overall, make sure the messages your dining services put out communicate a sense of unity on campus. Let students know you’re all in this together and every member of the campus community is doing their part to safely navigate the pandemic. Communicating stringent food safety standards along with togetherness will earn students’ trust and help them feel more secure in their dining choices.

How you get your message across can be equally as important as what your message is. To make sure all the students on campus see messages from dining services and are aware of any protocol changes, you will need to widely publicize your safety messages. Communicating through a media that most students regularly engage with is your best strategy for spreading essential information.

Try any of these means for reaching the student population:

  • Signage around campus
  • Social media posts
  • Campus-wide emails
  • Automated voice messages or texts
  • Television ads
  • The campus radio station

Additional Contactless Dining Solutions

In addition to takeout and delivery services, college and university food service coordinators can provide many other contactless dining solutions. If you’re trying to create a safer, healthier campus environment with contactless dining solutions, check out the following touchless innovations from American Dining Creations:

  • Touch-free nano markets: A touchless miniature market allows students to select the groceries and snacks they need and pay for their items by simply scanning their phone. This touchless payment option ensures healthy hand hygiene and minimal risk of exposure to germs. As a bonus, students will love the convenience of being able to quickly grab what they need from the market and go in between classes.
  • Contactless vending machines: Touchless vending options include kickplates and similar features. Students can access their vending machine snack or beverage without touching surfaces that hundreds of other students have touched before them.
  • Touchless coffee stations: A contactless coffee station allows students to start their day with a big cup of coffee and clean hands. By letting students enter their coffee orders and pay for them on their mobile devices, a touchless coffee station creates a completely touch-free way for students to acquire their caffeinated beverage.
  • Touchless beverage dispensers: Traditional self-serve beverage dispensers tend to be high-touch areas. But contactless beverage dispensers let students avoid coming in contact with potentially unsanitary surfaces as they use their phones to make their beverage selections. Students will also appreciate touchless beverage dispensers for their endless options of flavors, sparkling water and filtered still water.
  • Contact-free water filtration systems: A touchless filtered water dispenser offers the perfect place for students to refill their water bottles. With two foot pedals — one for hot water and one for cold water — a touch-free water filtration system enables students to stay properly hydrated while maintaining healthy hand hygiene.

Partner With American Dining Creations to Bring Takeout Options to Your Campus

If you’re interested in launching contactless takeout and delivery options at your college or university, American Dining Creations has the higher education dining solutions for you. American Dining Creations is both a hospitality company and a culinary company. We’ll work with you closely to come up with a custom food service plan based on your campus’s unique needs.

To learn more about how you can offer contactless takeout and delivery services for your students, contact American Dining Creations today.