Webfood, a web-based food ordering service from Cornell Dining, has been operational on campus since March 12. Webfood was created by four students at Cornell — Peter Krebs grad, Tim Campbell grad, Lou Licari ’02 and Ari Parnes ’02.
Plans for Webfood originated approximately two years prior to its implementation.
“It was in February of 2000 that the idea popped into our heads,” said Campbell. “We got the contract in December of 2001, and it took a few months to get it actually implemented.”
Webfood, which currently has about 870 users, allows Cornellians to log on to the system over the Internet at www.cornell.webfood.com, and order a meal from Bear Necessities on North Campus.
“We thought that we could help out and make the lines shorter, because we had all experienced very long lines as undergraduates,” Campbell said.
The service allows students to select the items they want to eat and pick them up at a specified time. According to the Webfood web site, the program also saves time for the cooks since all similar items can be prepared at once.
The team of students all perform separate tasks to make Webfood run smoothly. Krebs is responsible for the programming and the interface. Campbell performs the web design, graphic layout and user support. Parnes handles legal issues while Licari and Parnes work as a team to provide business services, such as financing and securing loans.
“As of yet the company hasn’t needed much financing, as it is still a local operation,” said Parnes. “I definitely see that changing as we grow, though. We have plans to expand in the near future.”
To accomplish this, the four students will attend a meeting of the National Association of College and University Food Services (NACUFS) to spread the word about their service.
On the Cornell campus, there are tentative plans to expand Webfood services.
“We are talking with Cornell Dining about spreading Webfood to Cascadeli, possibly as early as this summer,” said Campbell. “They have a delivery service to faculty and staff, and they’ve been having trouble with lines.”
Campbell has described Cornell Dining as receptive to their ideas.
“Nadeem Siddiqui of Cornell Dining Services, seemed hesitant but enthusiastic,” Campbell says. “Cornell Dining wanted a demo, which we developed in the spring of 2000.”
To spread word about the service, Cornell Dining sponsored Webfood’s marketing program. According to Parnes, “we had posters put up on North Campus, bought an ad in The Sun and sent out an e-mail.”
Campbell explains that the service is still experiencing alterations to make it run more smoothly.
“We have been adjusting the limit of orders from Webfood over a twenty minute period. Right now we are at ten orders [per period], and that seems to be working pretty well. We work with the cooking staff to determine what would be a good number over a certain time.”
The advantage of this system is that the students are able to select the time that their order will be picked up.
Though the user base is still relatively small, feedback has been fairly positive, according to Campbell.
“Right now we are very enthusiastic. Hopefully at the end of the semester we’ll have time to look at the data, and we hope that it will be good for Cornell. Overall, we are pretty happy with it,” he said.
Many Webfood users seem to be pleased with the service.
“Personally, I’m a big fan of Webfood,” said Devon Story ’05. “It is both easier and more convenient to order food online and pick it up than to wait in the seemingly endless lines at Bear Necessities.”
Archived article by David Hillis