Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass should add delivery options to its dining experience

Delivery to on-campus locations would diversify and enhance UMass’ dining program
Daily Collegian

It’s September 2025. You are a student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst living in a recently completed housing complex off Massachusetts Avenue. It’s a rainy evening, but you’re starving. You don’t have the luxury of students living in Southwest Residential Area or Central Residential Area, who have dining commons just a short walk away. You wonder how you’ll be able to comfortably get a meal.

But wait! You just remembered that UMass has rolled out a new DoorDash-style service that delivers food from all your favorite dining locations. With glee, you think about the options you have — maybe the pancakes being served at Berkshire, or perhaps some ice cream from Worcester Dining Commons. The possibilities are endless, and it could all be experienced from the comfort of your room.

Unfortunately, what I just described is only a hypothetical. But it does not have to be. UMass can take its on-campus dining experience to a new level by creating a delivery service from dining areas to residential buildings on campus.

At first glance, the idea might sound outlandish and far-fetched, and there are definitely many problems to consider. But it’s not like UMass doesn’t already have the necessary infrastructure to institute this.

For example, during the 2020-21 academic year, UMass had students quarantine in locations around campus after being exposed to or testing positive for COVID-19. When quarantining, students had to order meals to their room using the UMass Dining Quarantine app. It was a relatively easy process; you selected any allergies or dietary restrictions, chose your meals and submitted. I don’t see how this couldn’t be reworked to be geared toward a general dining delivery service.

There are obvious concerns. The service may face an overwhelming amount of activity from students across campus that makes delivery slow, plodding and ineffective. Students could abuse the feature and order copious amounts of food, making it difficult for delivery drivers. These and other logistical problems are valid concerns, but ones I believe can be resolved.

The service would be limited to on-campus students and on-campus dining options that are open at the time. UMass could limit the delivery service to only certain parts of campus to begin with, like with the currently-under-construction Massachusetts Avenue housing that is farther from dining options than other residential areas. The University could also restrict it to certain times of the day, like after 9 p.m. or during very busy hours at the dining commons. If the University wanted to go further, it could limit students to only one delivered meal per day, which would be tracked by students signing into the app using their UCard.

I feel that the positives of this new service would outweigh the negatives. It would make the dining experience an overall more enjoyable one by reducing the high capacity that is so frequently found at the four dining commons, which is likely to get worse as the freshman class sizes continue to increase. It would also assist students with disabilities in getting meals in a more comfortable way. Additionally, delivery would create many new, good-paying jobs for students across campus, as positions to pack and deliver food would be needed.

This idea has many kinks that need to be worked out. However, I firmly believe that this is a concept that UMass could and should eventually implement. Delivery from dining areas would change the game of the dining experience. UMass may have nationally recognized dining, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be improved for the students it serves.

Luke Halpern can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @lukehalpern

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    Alumnus, Class of 2019Sep 16, 2022 at 6:18 pm

    UMass Dining actually had a delivery service not too long ago, known as Southwest Express.

    Southwest Café used to exist on the lower level of the Hampden building (in the space currently known as Chicken & Co.). Southwest Café was a late-night (typically until 2 a.m.) café with a menu including things like pizza, wings, and Pita Pit. Students on a dining plan could use dining dollars to purchase food.

    Southwest Express was operated out of Southwest Café. Students could order food over the phone, and the food would be delivered to anywhere on campus. In fall 2016, however, a decision was made to restrict delivery service to just the Southwest residential area, and later, to eliminate delivery service altogether.

    An article about the service and its demise was posted on Amherst Wire:

    It seems the reason for the elimination of delivery service was increasing cost and limited staffing. Customers would complain of waiting too long for their deliveries.

    It soon followed that Southwest Café/Pita Pit in the Hampden building, as well as Pita Pit in old Worcester, were shut down to make way for two Chicken & Co. restaurants at those locations, which were open by spring 2018.

    UMass Dining has had a habit of reducing the availability of food services since I arrived in 2015, with locations closing and hours being reduced, all while demand continues to increase. A delivery service would be a luxury, but I would like to see #1 Campus Dining return to its former glory by fixing their staffing problem, treating their workers better, and adding capacity to the dining commons.