Chartwells Higher Education Dining Services has launched its “ghost kitchens” pilot program at select colleges and universities, crafting creative meal concepts that can be integrated into the company’s existing mobile ordering platform.
Chartwells Higher Education, which provides on-campus dining experiences at 300 colleges and universities across the US, now allows the pilot schools to implement new dining experiences virtually anywhere they have kitchen space.
One feature of the program is that schools have more menu offerings that can be customized according to local preferences, and that it is now available at convenient hours.
Healthy Dining Options
Many dining halls on college campuses do not allow students to leave the facility with food. This, combined with social distancing guidelines, has made it difficult for students to access healthy meals as needed.
The CEO of Chartwells Higher Education, Lisa McEuen, explained that ghost kitchens strike a good balance between giving campuses the capacity to serve good food and allowing students to access a variety of healthy dining options and menus.
“A benefit to the program is that many of our campuses are already well-equipped to implement ghost kitchens at a low cost. They don’t have to replace any meal concepts or shut down a location; all they need is kitchen space and they can have a ghost kitchen up and running very quickly,” she said.
Making Alternative Diets and Weekend Meals Accessible
Chartwells worked closely with Seattle University, where more than 90 percent of the campus went online during the fall 2020 quarter. The ghost kitchen received more than 24,000 orders in the first month alone.
Terry Conaty, the Resident District Manager at Seattle University, pointed out that alternative diet options and the weekends are often needs that have not been catered to under traditional dining models.
“We decided to open our ghost kitchen in response to students and parents looking for increased meal variety and a safe alternative to on-campus dining, particularly on the weekends and for plant-based options. The feedback so far has been phenomenal,” he shared.
Conaty added that the program was easy to launch and made accessible at minimal cost because their main priority was to repurpose existing kitchen space.
“It’s a win-win because we’re providing students with lots of new menu options without having to add additional personnel resources or compromise our social distancing guidelines,” he explained.
Other pilot schools for the ghost kitchen program include SUNY Buffalo, the University of Utah, the University of Texas at Dallas, and San Jose State University.