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UMN students give their thoughts on the new University food ordering system

One year into the change of the food ordering system, students talk about their experiences with the new Boost mobile ordering app.
Image by Amaya Battle
A student paying for snacks using the Boost ordering system at the Student Union on Tuesday, October 3.

In an effort to enhance the on-campus dining experience, the University of Minnesota’s food provider has implemented a change in the food ordering system at Coffman Memorial Union. 

M Food Co., managed by Chartwells in collaboration with the University of Minnesota, changed in the past year to enhance the on-campus dining experience for students and visitors, according to Dawn Aubrey, Vice President of Operations at M Food Co.

The new system includes self-order kiosks for locations within Minnesota Marketplace and Erbert and Gerbert’s in Coffman. 

“This system was implemented to address specific issues related to order accuracy and efficiency,” Aubrey said in an email statement to the Minnesota Daily.

Aubrey explained the self-order kiosks offer benefits such as reducing order errors, streamlining the ordering process and decreasing wait time.

Aubrey said another change M Food Co. implemented was the use of mobile ordering through the Boost mobile app, which allows students to place an order in advance on their phone and avoid waiting in line to order at kiosks. 

Students have mixed feelings about the new ordering system

Akyah Ming, a University student who uses the Boost app frequently, said she likes to order on the app while walking out of class so her food is ready by the time she gets there.

“I always use it,” Ming said. “It’s very efficient.” 

While Ming prefers the app to the kiosks, she also feels the app is limited because not all of the restaurants in Coffman and the Minnesota Marketplace are on the app. 

Anika Aswal, a first-year student at the University, has not used the app before. Instead, she uses the kiosks every week to order food. 

“I think it’s really good,” Aswal said. “You just order here and go in and pick it up, it’s nice.” 

Aswal said she would maybe consider getting the app, but she does not experience problems with the kiosk. 

According to University student Ethan Del Sol, using the kiosks is fast and easy, although it comes with its challenges. 

“The only thing is, not all the kiosks have all the restaurants,” Del Sol explained. “You have to find which one you need.”

Del Sol has not used the Boost app but has seen it advertised frequently. 

A second-year University student worker Emma Jensen said there are a lot of problems with the kiosks and the Boost app. 

Jensen works at Einstein Bros. Bagels in Coffman, and she explained that last year, a lot of the Boost orders would not go into their system so the workers did not know when a customer had ordered. 

Even though that problem has been fixed Jensen said it has always been “kind of a little wonky.” 

“I would just make it easier for people to navigate,” Jensen suggested about the app and the kiosks. “Make sure all the options are actually there.” 

Jennifer Zou is a third-year student who uses the Boost app and the kiosks. While Zou said she usually tries to order through the app, she finds it hard to tell when to use the app versus the kiosks when it is busy.

“I feel like they can definitely change something,” Zou said. “The current problem is that they’re all pretty short on staff so the time it takes for orders to be ready is not normal.” 

Staffing shortages have caused some of the recent changes, such as altering the ordering system at the Subway location in Blegen to strictly online ordering through the Boost app. 

“The decision is a response to staffing challenges, which affects our ability to offer in-person or on-site ordering at this time,” Aubrey said. “The move to mobile ordering is one solution to continue serving guests efficiently while we work to resolve the staffing challenge.” 

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