There is a new option on the menu for students at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken.
Like many universities in the country, Stevens offers meal plans that can include discretionary funds, or flex dollars, that students can spend at select area merchants.
This fall, that list of options grows by more than 300,000. Students at the university now have the option to skip the dining hall in favor of Grubhub.
Stevens added the popular food delivery app to the list of merchants in its CampusCash off-campus merchant program provided by Transact Campus Inc., a Phoenix-based payment and ID solutions provider for colleges and universities.
Stevens is one of two schools in the state to do so — Fairleigh Dickinson University also has added Grubhub to its off-campus merchant program for both its Madison and Teaneck campuses.
The students will be able to use their meal plan’s discretionary funds to place orders through Grubhub, which collects a commission from its restaurant partners. Restaurants have the option to include a delivery fee.
In other words, should students be sent home early — or choose to go home early — they still can use their dining dollars no matter where they are in the state or the country.
Grubhub announced in August that it had partnered with Transact to be included in its CampusCash program. It is something Stevens had been eagerly awaiting, said Rebecca Jennings, executive director of student accounts & auxiliary services for the university.
“As soon as Transact notified us that it was an option, we decided to roll it out,” Jennings said. “This new service helps Stevens provide our students with more flexibility in using their DuckBills, allowing for on-campus dining, in-person dining with our local DuckBills Merchants and, now, delivery through Grubhub.”
A DuckBill is Stevens’ university-branded version of CampusCash flex dollars.
The decision to add a contactless delivery option to a university’s dining program has been motivated, at least in part, by new challenges wrought by the pandemic, challenges that created an opportunity for both Grubhub and Transact.
“Universities had to quickly adapt technologies to keep operations running smoothly over the last 18 months as they pivoted to hybrid learning and contactless dining experiences,” Brian Madigan, vice president of campus and corporate partners at Grubhub, said in a statement. “We’re excited to partner with Transact to help university partners stay nimble with continued flexible meal models and expand the off-campus dining options available to students, while driving orders to local restaurants in their communities.”
Transact saw the impact that COVID-19 was having on campuses across the country, said Theresa Moore, director of financial services for the company, which serves 12 million customers annually at more than 1,300 campuses nationwide.
“A lot of our university and college campuses were having to either deal with shutting down campus completely or doing a hybrid learning environment and having to find solutions for students who may have had to be quarantined,” Moore said.
Fairleigh Dickinson already was planning to switch to mobile ordering before COVID-19 swept through the country, said Robert Valenti, associate vice president for auxiliary services at the university. Conversations with various student groups in the summer of 2020 prompted the university to do more.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic became increasingly more severe, we were forced to limit our hours and dining options available on campus,” he said. “We were faced with the dilemma of not only keeping our students safe, but also of providing them options outside our normal hours.
“That came in the form of adding Grubhub.”
FDU was among a handful of universities across the country that piloted the new partnership last year.
“With Grubhub as part of our program, we were able to offer students expanded hours, increased popular and local dining options, and the flexibility they needed to get them through some very rough times,” he said.