Students now have the option to skip the line in campus dining, and will soon be able to have food delivered straight to them.
Until now, the only campus dining location that offered online ordering using a meal plan was PAD, and orders had to be completed through an online form. Beginning this fall, students can use their meal plan with Tapingo, an online food delivery service. It is available for the majority of dining locations, allowing them to order food ahead of time for pickup.
Zia Ahmed, senior director of dining services, said dining services has been working on implementing this type of service for about two and a half years, and has relied heavily on student feedback to get the system into place.
“We tested at Sloopy’s and Courtside Café,” he said. “Although it was not heavily used, the people who used it really enjoyed it and we got really good feedback from them.”
Tapingo reached out to OSU about three years ago to offer their service to campus, Ahmed said. However, his team wanted to be certain that the company was ready to integrate into campus before forming the partnership.
“We have been monitoring (Tapingo) carefully because when we saw them a few years ago, we knew about them, but were not completely confident that they were able and ready at that point to service a campus of our size and complexity,” he said.
Leanne Reis, public relations manager for Tapingo, said in an email since its inception in 2012, the company has grown to partner with more than 150 colleges around the country.
At this time, only the pickup function is available. Once Ahmed and his team are confident that the service works seamlessly for pickup, they will begin to offer delivery service gradually, with one location being added every two or three weeks.
“This fall is the first time we are planning on rolling out delivery,” he said. “We wanted to make sure our online ordering piece is working because that’s the platform that gives you the actual service of delivery.”
While drivers for the delivery service will be primarily students, they will be employed by Tapingo and not university dining services, Ahmed added. Orders are sent directly to a dining location where the meal is prepared, and Tapingo drivers will pick up the order once the delivery service is implemented.
Vivian Wang, a fourth-year in public health, said by using Tapingo she has been able to better manage her time by getting quick access to food.
“I like to use Tapingo when I have a really hectic schedule that day, or I know that in between classes I won’t be able to get food,” she said. “So even five minutes before (arriving at the dining hall), I can just really easily pick what I want and by the time I walk there, it’ll be ready for me to eat.”
Ahmed anticipates there might be problems with the service as students and employees get used to it, but believes that having real-time data from students will help university dining services work through those issues and continue to improve the app.
“After we go through the learning curve with the students using it and also our team members getting used to the process, this should work very well,” he said. “This is one of the services I’m very optimistic that students are going to enjoy.”