A new smartphone app has expanded to the University of Massachusetts, giving students the opportunity to virtually take control of their dining hall diets while at school.
Developed by Boston College senior Jimmy Campbell, “Campus Calories ” allows users to “search your university’s menu, lookup nutritional info and count your calories,” as described on the iTunes app store.
“The idea came one day when I was wondering about the nutritional information for my favorite sandwich at BC,” Campbell said. “I knew the information was online but I couldn’t get to it from my phone.
“I’ve been (at BC) for four years and (students) eat the same things pretty much day in, day out at the same dining halls so I wanted (to create) a way where students can easily access (nutritional) information that’s already online,” he added.
The app began with BC’s dining halls this past January and has since expanded to the UMass and MIT campuses.
“I worked with the developer for about four months in creating the app,” Campbell said. “I had a specific vision for it. During that time I was collecting data at BC and just putting it into a format where you could use it.
“We added UMass and MIT two weeks ago. Right now we’re just working to get data on other schools to add them as well,” he added.
Campbell said “Campus Calories” has hit close to 40,000 downloads since the app became available early this year and gets about 45 downloads every day. He said the number of downloads exceeded his and his team’s expectations, having only been available for three months.
“It went a lot faster than (my team and I) thought,” he said of the app’s download popularity.
In addition to creating the app, Campbell, an environmental science and economics major at BC, runs the website Broverstock.us, which also has its own app.
“It’s targeted at college-aged males,” he said of the website. “I’m definitely interested in technology and apps and all that stuff.”
This year, “Campus Calories” was selected as a finalist in the Boston College Venture Competition . The contest is “a university-wide business plan competition designed to promote and support entrepreneurship at the undergraduate level at Boston College,” according to the BCVC website. And even though they ultimately didn’t win, Campbell said that “being a finalist in this (was) great anyways.”
As for the future of “Campus Calories,” Campbell said he is open to ways to improve the app.
“There’s ways to give us feedback on the app online,” he said. “If we missed something (students) eat all the time at UMass, we’d love to hear about that so we can put it in and make the app better.”
“Campus Calories” is available for free in the iTunes app store and requires iOS platform versions 5.0 or later.
Anna Jolliffe can be reached at [email protected]