This semester, Wellesley College debuted a new interface for the Wellesley Fresh website. This online platform is the medium via which students can access the daily menu for the five dining halls on campus.
The new interface has possesses useful features such as the ability to to filter out certain food items students may not want to eat. This has been especially helpful for all students with allergies and other dietary restrictions.
According to Cass Michaud ’20, the food rater of Shafer Hall House Council, the improvements have been great. With the new features, her friends with dietary restrictions find their experience in the dining halls enhanced.
“I really like the ability to screen and look for different food options like if it’s vegan or vegetarian because I have friends who are vegan. It helps them know what they can eat,” Michaud said.
The new website also allows users to rate food out of five stars and see the nutritional facts on select items.
Cherie Tyger, the residential director of Wellesley Fresh, said that the changes made to the website were in the works for quite some time. They were simply waiting for a company that would be able to accommodate Wellesley Fresh’s constantly changing dining hall menu. Since Wellesley Fresh likes to accomodate to student preferences and cook meals based on seasonal fruits and vegetables, they would have to sign with a company that would allow them to continue innovating and adapting to campus needs on a daily basis.
“It is something we have wanted to do for several years, but we had to wait for the right time to do it. We have a complicated system because we focus on customization of our menus. We are constantly revamping and updating our menus to meet the needs and requests of students. It is important to us to be able to maintain that flexibility without having to be tied down to standardized recipes and ingredients,” Tyger said.
Wellesley Fresh has partnered with Nutrislice, a company that was able to work with the flexibility in the dining hall menus. Nutrislice is a software company that specializes in providing institutions with interactive menus that inform the user about what they are eating in the dining halls. According to their website, they are employed by over 1,000 school districts across the country.
Since the implementation of the new site, Wellesley Fresh has received compliments from students and parents alike.
“We have received great feedback from not only students, but parents as well. We have had a great deal of excitement and buzz about the upgrade to our website. Several students with allergies and their parents have reached out to us directly to let us know how much they appreciate the new system. It has made their lives easier being able to navigate through the menu even entering a dining hall,” Tyger commented.
Although there has been a lot of positive feedback for the site, students wish there were still an option to compare menus side by side. This was the previous interface for The Wellesley Fresh website.
Audrey Seo ’20 feels that this is the key feature missing from the new interface.
“I think that the presentation is nice, but I think what people really wanted was a comparison of all the dining halls, and they took that away which decreases the value of the information,” Seo commented.
As a favor to a friend, Seo has developed their own version of the Wellesley Fresh service on an app titled Wellesley Fresh, which can be purchased in the app store. With Seo’s app, the user will be notified which dining hall they are closest to. They will also have the ability to see the hours of all food establishments on campus, except student cooperatives, and set a “default dining hall” so that that menu will always be displayed on the home screen.
Currently, Seo is trying to get a wider audience for their app. They are currently hoping to get in touch with administration to develop a partnership.
“I’m trying to get in better touch with someone who knows more about The Wellesley Fresh Website so that I can have more features,” Seo said.
So far, Seo’s app has 65 downloads. They are working on developing an Android app in the future.
According to Tyger, there are currently no plans to further develop the website, but Wellesley Fresh is open to that idea in the future. “We currently do not have any major updates planned, but we are always listening to feedback to see how we can tweak thing to make them user friendly,” Tyger said.
It is possible that a mobile app will be developed in the future; however, there are no definite plans at the moment.
“We want to make sure we work out any kinks before moving to the next stage. Once we move through that phase, we do have plans to roll out a mobile app. We are very excited to move onto this next phase and are very proud of the redesign and all of the work that went into it,” Tyger commented.