Just a few swipes across a smartphone touch screen will now give students answers to their dining hall-related questions. Thanks to a new update to the Harvard Mobile smartphone app, the dining section now includes comprehensive nutritional data and updated hours for all of Harvard University Dining Services’ dishes and dining halls.
"We make every effort to make information readily available," said Crista Martin, HUDS director for marketing and communications. "For those individuals interested in this information, [the app] provides one more great and easy way to access it."
HUDS used to display nutritional information directly on food labels in the servery, but stopped doing so in 2008 when students and parents raised concerns that public display of nutritional information might instigate or exacerbate eating disorders. At the time, students could still look up nutritional information on the HUDS website or at kiosks in the dining halls. Martin said that including nutritional data in the app makes the information more easily accessible to students who want it without making calories or serving size a focal point of the dining experience.
"I think it’s great that HUDS is using technology and taking into account student input to improve the dining experience," Matt P. Abrams ’15 said.
Although most students interviewed for this article were unaware about the changes to the app, they expressed enthusiasm for the adjustments.
"It sounds pretty cool. I wouldn’t necessarily use the nutritional information part, but I would use the dining times," Susan Arias ’14 said.
The Harvard Mobile app used to display expected opening and closing times for all of Harvard’s dining halls based on a general daily schedule, but it now features more customized timing information that reflects date-specific closings.
"For example, if a House is going to be closed for the holiday break or for a private event, the app will show that dining hall is not open," Martin said.
Harvard Mobile was launched in the fall of 2010 as a University-wide initiative and included a course catalog, directory, campus map, event calendar, news center, and student dining portal. Links to track shuttle routes and access library information were added in October and November of that year, respectively.
Originally designed only for the iPhone, Harvard Mobile was updated in January 2013 to Harvard Mobile 2.0, which has a new look, more features, and Android compatibility.
"It’s a great tool for the University as a whole," Martin said. "We’re glad to be part of it."
—Staff writer Maddie Sewani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @maddiesewani