U of T has launched a mobile food ordering service for certain food options on the St. George campus. With the app, users preorder food, so they can customize their meal, choose a convenient pick-up time, and avoid wait times by skipping lines.

The university began developing the app at the end of 2019 with the goal of releasing it by the end of 2020. However, the benefits of a mobile ordering system during COVID-19 prompted an early launch.

Improving student experience

In an email to The Varsity, Colin Porter, Executive Director of Food and Beverage Services & Campus Events, wrote that “one of the biggest trends within the food services sector over the past couple of years is the introduction and growth of mobile ordering and pre payments apps.” He explained that people enjoy the “flexibility and instant gratification” that accompanies mobile services and that it helps people maximize the efficiency of their daily routine.

“Students have the convenience of when completing a class to then open the app pre-order, pay, and pick up food and beverages between class or returning to residence,” Porter added. The multiple payment options also serve as an advantage to students. Payment options for the service include TBucks, credit cards, or New College or Chestnut meal plans.

Students can access the service by selecting University of Toronto through the Transact Mobile Ordering app, which is available for download on the Apple and Google Play app stores.

Currently, the mobile-ordering option is limited to Sidney Smith Commons and Robarts Library. Residence dining halls will soon be available as additional pick-up locations.

According to Porter, a rewards loyalty program will eventually be implemented that will allow repeat users to access discounts and special deals on food and beverages.

Mobile ordering and COVID-19

The service was released early because of the benefits it could provide students and the university community at large during a pandemic. According to Porter, it provides students with an easy and safe way of avoiding crowds, and it reduces the size of those crowds for those who are ordering in person.

Porter concluded that the service “assists in minimizing gatherings and limiting multiple interactions by the way of a touchless pre-order, pay and pick-up solution.”