College students across the country will be happy to know that most universities will be returning to on-campus instruction for the Fall 2020 semester. However, this will not come without precautions. Many schools are enforcing strict social distancing policies to keep all students and faculty safe. For example, some schools are mandating that students wear face coverings when in class, and other schools are drastically decreasing class sizes to accommodate social distancing.

Conversely, many university dining halls will not be changing much this upcoming semester. Other than the addition of more soap dispensers and fewer self-serve options, many universities will still allow buffet style dining. Now more than ever, dining halls across the country need to come up with safer ways for students to order their food and limit direct exposure with others. It is essential that self-service kiosks are installed in university dining halls to avoid human-to-human contact and mitigate crowding.

Why Self-Ordering Kiosks for Cafeterias?

First, many colleges are already accustomed to kiosk technology through informational kiosks that are placed around campus. As such, adding cafeteria kiosks will not present a major learning curve. If colleges work with reputable kiosk manufacturers, kiosk integration will go smoothly.

Additionally, according to multiple studies, dining halls are one of the dirtiest places on a college campus because of their buffet style. Picture a university dining hall. Long lines for the special of the day. Students coughing and sneezing around food. People spreading germs through soda machines. Dining halls cannot continue this way and risk spreading COVID-19. Self-ordering kiosks are a new and innovative way for students to order their food straight from their table and have their food available at a food locker or pickup location. Colleges can also implement a curbside pick-up model at the cafeterias, as depicted in the video below. Students will be able to choose from a large variety of dishes without having to leave the cafe area. This will help mitigate crowding and student travel between the food and their tables.

Some kiosks can even be used without even walking into the dining hall. If placed outside the dining hall, students can simply swipe their student ID card and order their food right there. When their food is ready, they will be notified and can either walk in to pick it up or even pick it up curbside. Students can also order online via a contactless ordering app. Simply scan a QR-code and students will be sent to the daily menu, allowing them to order their food straight from the comfort of their own dorm room.

Kiosks have existed in restaurants for a long time, but now more than ever, they need to be implemented in all dining areas across the country in order to keep everyone safe on college campuses for years to come.

Other Automation Possibilities

As mentioned, campus kiosks already exist, providing interactive maps and guides for visitors, and increasingly making cafeterias self-service. But there are many other processes that can be efficiently automated by campus kiosks. Anywhere a long line typically forms, a college kiosk would be of use: think of student health services, mail services, and printing stations. In addition to wayfinding and café kiosks, colleges can also automate popular advising and administrative services, and students can make appointments via self-service kiosks. Finally, informational kiosks are perfect for campuses, displaying relevant alerts or event information for anyone walking around campus.

Overall, through innovative kiosk technology, college campuses can revolutionize how they disseminate information and provide essential services. Students are sure to see more and more kiosks in the coming years.