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U. of Houston adds smart lockers for food pickup

The University of Houston, with assistance from food service provider Chartwells, has installed smart lockers for food pickup. The Apex Order Pick Up lockers provide self-serve automated access to student food orders on campus, and makes Houston the first university in Texas to deploy a smart locker system for contactless food pick-up.

All of Houston’s 53,000 students, faculty and staff can use the smart lockers, which are connected to the Asado Burritos and Bowls — a Chartwells food concept — located in the university’s student union.

Employees load food into the lockers from the rear of the two-sided flow-thru lockers, and students collect their order from the front. The retrieval process is fast and supports contactless pick-up. The locker technology promises to increase throughput and transactions, as well as reduce crowds and lines at the register.

“The pandemic has impacted the landscape of the on-campus dining experience and our approach to guest service should continue to acclimate,” says Charles Pereira, vice president of operations for Chartwells at the University of Houston System.

To use the lockers, customers first place their order through the mobile ordering app. They then receive an email when their meal is ready for pickup along with a unique code to unlock the locker.

“More people are discovering the convenience of online and mobile ordering as well as contactless service and we recognize that our dining operations must evolve with these changing preferences,” says Emily Messa, associate vice president for administration at the University of Houston. “We are always looking for ways to enhance the dining experience for our students, faculty and staff and these innovative food lockers do just that.”

The Apex food lockers at Houston recently had their grand opening August 24, when students returned to campus for fall classes. For more information on the lockers visit the University of Houston’s Dining’s website.

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