Vanderbilt Campus Dining has no plans to make a new app, leans on expanded website

After discontinuing the Vanderbilt Campus Dining app, Campus Dining has invested in a revamped website and clarified that there is no concrete roadmap for an app renewal

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Vanderbilt Campus Dining has no plans to make a new app, leans on expanded website

Ryan Suddath, Staff Writer

Vanderbilt Campus Dining killed its longstanding iOS/Android app this summer and substituted it with an expanded website. And going against the current norm of website owners switching to apps, Campus Dining says it will not be making a new app. 

Sean Carroll, Vanderbilt’s Director of Business Services Operations, rationalized the discontinuation of the previous app by saying that it presented issues with “data security and limited flexibility.”

As a substitute for the app, Vanderbilt Campus Dining rolled out a revamped website. The new website includes dining hall hours under the “Where To Dine” tab and also allows users to access nutritional information powered by NetNutrition, a web extension that provides the nutritional profile and allergenic hazards of each meal served at each dining hall at a given time. 

NetNutrition integrates dietary information with the dining hall menus, so students can only access campus menus by clicking the “Nutrition” tab on the main Campus Dining page and then successively the “Menus—NetNutrition” tab on the “Nutrition” page, or at vu.edu/menus. However, dining hall hours are not available in the same place. The previous Campus Dining app allowed students to browse menus by what was open at any given time. 

While the renovated website and the introduction of NetNutrition powered features has incited optimism among the Vanderbilt administration, some students have found that the redesigned website makes essential dining information harder to find than before.

“Campus Dining should just move the menus to the main Vandy Campus Dining page,” junior Troy Anderson said. “When you press ‘Menus’ on Google now, it just says that the app is no longer unavailable.”

Anderson shed light on one of the fundamental accessibility issues of the new Campus Dining website: pressing the link that says “Menus” under the “Vanderbilt Campus Dining” Google result yields a blank tab with an error notification. Thus, students who are unfamiliar with the location of menu information within the “Nutrition” section of the Campus Dining website are often left unaware of how to access dining hall menus. Citing these accessibility issues and other reservations about the convenience of the website, some students have vouched for the renewal of an app to accompany the website.

“I think it [an app] would be a lot more convenient and it would definitely be easier to check when I’m leaving class or on-the-go,” sophomore Eric Abeles said. 

Despite hopes of the development of a new Campus Dining application, Carroll assured that there is currently no timetable for the reimplementation of a Campus Dining app. 

“Our focus is on further enhancing the existing site, and ensuring a mobile-friendly user experience, regardless of platform or device type,” Carroll said. 

The revelation that Campus Dining does not intend to recreate an app has been met with some pushback among students. 

“I think it’s really inconvenient because I go to places based on what they have at that time, so if I don’t know what they have, I risk wasting time or being unsatisfied,” sophomore Yasmeen Minnefield said.

Editor’s note: Following the publication of this article, Campus Dining fixed the dead-end link to the “Menus” tab which appears under a “Vanderbilt Campus Dining” Google search. The functioning link is available here.

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