As the 2021-22 school year ramps up, so does the demand for Campus Dining. However, this demand has been met with complaints from students regarding long wait times through the Grubhub app that some students attribute to a staff shortage.
Grubhub opened up its services to Cal Poly students during the 2019-20 school year as another option for ordering campus dining. However, the use of Grubhub has been expanded in an attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19, causing longer lines and wait times for almost all dining options.
To order food on campus, students must download the Grubhub app and connect it to their Cal Poly account. From there, they can find the menus for almost every on-campus dining option. Once they order, the app gives an estimate for when the food will be ready for pickup.
According to Campus Dining spokesperson Aaron Lambert, students wishing to dismiss the line on Grubhub are now able to order in person, an option not available during the 2020 school year.
“Campus Dining customers are free to order in person whenever they’d like,” Lambert said. “Grubhub is simply the preferred method as it helps create a more efficient process.”
Despite the added option, Grubhub remains the more popular choice among students. At peak hours, such as midday and early evening, it is common to see wait times on the app well above an hour, an issue addressed by Campus Dining spokesperson Aaron Lambert.
“Wait times are obviously the biggest complaint, and rightfully so, no one wants to wait,” Lambert said in an email to Mustang News. “However, it is also the start of the academic year, which is always stressful. Especially this year as 25,000 Cal Poly community members, including faculty and staff, return to campus for the first time in a year and a half and familiarize themselves with changes to the university.”
Starbucks, Jamba Juice, Campus Market and Einstein Bros. are the most popular dining spots in terms of average wait time, as they regularly see times above 60 minutes.
Meanwhile, the options inside the Vista Grande Dining Facility, which opened in 2020, see wait times that sit at around 10-20 minutes.
According to Lambert, over 9,000 orders are placed through Grubhub at Cal Poly and, as of this school year, there are 11,400 Cal Poly students active on Grubhub.
With such a large number of students using the app, a significant concern for students is the accuracy of Grubhub when it comes to when an item is “expected to be ready by.”
Bioresource and agricultural engineering sophomore Hannah Conover began working for Campus Dining this year and said she has already noticed some problems. She cited the wait time on the Grubhub app as being “inaccurate,” which can be attributed to her crew being understaffed.
“Grubhub can do all the calculations for wait time but it doesn’t have human eyes on the kitchen,” Conover said.
Experience industry management junior Tanner Stevens has experienced the same struggles with the app, saying that it has been a “hassle at times.”
“Sometimes it’s hard to know when to place an order because I can’t really trust the wait times,” Stevens said. “I’ve had to either wait until the end of my classes to get food or roll the dice that my food will be ready for me before my classes start.”
The spike in lines and wait times, as mentioned by Lambert, can be directly attested to the use of Grubhub and the beginning of the school year. Conover said Campus Dining should increase staffing to meet the high demand of orders.
When asked what the largest issue facing Campus Dining is as the school year ramps up, Conover said it is staffing.
“When we don’t have the staffing, the tickets add up and the line becomes chaotic,” Conover said. “We need more staff. We need more people to put on the apron and go to work.”