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Sodexo plans campus dining innovations

Autonomous grocery stores, ramen-making vending machines, virtual dining

Food-service provider, Sodexo is plotting some advancements in campus dining with new technology-backed dining concepts for students. Starting this spring, the company is implementing the “eat>NOW” autonomous campus grocery store concept, as well as new vending and virtual dining concepts with robot delivery on select campuses.

In partnership with AiFi, an AI platform that enables autonomous shopping solutions, Sodexo’s eat>NOW concept will offer a checkout-free grocery and convenience store experience. Among the first campuses to host the AI-powered retail concept is the University of Denver with a grand opening slated for April 6.

“Students want three things: convenience, choice, and quality – often in that order,” says Kevin Rettle, global vice president, Sodexo Innovation and Digital, Universities. “Sodexo is in the business of helping our clients meet those needs head on, so we’re introducing campuses to the latest in innovative foodservice with eat>NOW autonomous grocery stores, high-tech vending, partnering with the top brands that students are looking for, and delivering it to their doors.”

“This partnership with Sodexo allows AiFi to bring our leading technology to campuses across the country with a proven leader in food services,” says Steve Gu, AiFi’s CEO and co-founder. “With Sodexo, we can bring today’s students the ultimate convenience they’re looking for.”

For the vending machine implementation, Sodexo is partnering with Yo Kai Express, to offer students a high-tech vending experience that serves more than 80 ramen and udon noodle bowl combinations.

Already on campus, including at New Mexico State University, the Yo Kai Express kiosks enable guests to place orders and make payments via a touch screen. Sodexo, meanwhile, is able to provide students with 24/7 access to the dining option, which has been a particularly popular choice during late-night hours when demand is highest and dining options are limited.

A third partnership with Virtual Dining Concepts, is offering campuses three delivery-only options through Sodexo’s Bite App for Universities.

Virtual Dining Concepts consists of a collection of dining locations, including MrBeast Burger, Mariah’s Cookies, and Buddy V’s Cake Slice. Already in place at Sodexo campus partner, Gonzaga University, these dining concepts offer the option for students to place orders from their mobile device for delivery directly to their dorm rooms.

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