A new, fully-automated convenience store on the North Campus is receiving mixed reviews from students and faculty, after replacing the school’s cafeteria at the start of the semester. The new system, called Avenue C, is a creation of Canteen, a vending machine operating company.
Advertised as a “micro-market” through a press release from Canteen, Avenue C intends to bring more variety, flexibility and convenience to the North campus. Though not all seem to agree with Avenue C’s promises. A number of students feel the software’s interface is confusing and that the current selection is of poor quality.
“The checkout system could use some work. Like, there’s two ways you could use it. You can do a card, but I don’t have a card, so that’s not very helpful. Or, you can setup an account, which also requires your thumbprint and like a million other things,” said Nick Saylor, a student on campus.
One of the largest areas of concern early on seem to come from less than clear information in regards to purchasing meals. Several students have noted an overall confusion of how to pay as one their biggest concerns
Avenue C works in a manner that resembles a grocery store’s self-checkout and looks similar to a convenience store. The customer enters the cafeteria and makes their selections from several shelves, refrigerators and a freezer. From there, they take their items to a kiosk, where they scan their barcodes and are presented with two checkout options. They may either pay by debit card or by a prepaid account that can be accessed by thumbprint recognition or by username and password.
The software’s places a particular focus on creating this user account that can allow students to store credits in dollar increments for future purchases. Although this third party account is not necessary to make purchases, it is currently the only means for a student to pay with cash, as the machine does not appear to distribute change.
“You can’t use change in there. You can only use dollar bills and your card. That makes it difficult for people who basically want to use it like a vending machine, and that’s basically what it is,” said Cierra Hetrick, another student on the North Campus.
Another concern troubling students and faculty alike is the limited selection of nutritious options currently available. Brian Bird, a professor on campus, is particularly disappointed in the current selection.
“I’ve heard some complaints about the quality of the items, especially the sandwiches. It’s kind of disappointing that we don’t have better options and more healthy options,” said Bird.
Lavinia Rivis, another student, shared a similar opinion. Rivas believes that the food just seemed healthier when it was prepared fresh by a chef, last semester.
“She was able to prepare your meal on the spot. It wouldn’t be just food that’d be sitting there. It is food that see freshly prepared. It might have taken a toll on her though because she didn’t have enough customers,” said Rivis. Under-utilization is the primary reason for the change away from a staffed cafeteria to an automated system according to Bird.