Jackie Cannon ’20
Over the summer, the Hogan Campus Center welcomed its newest addition: a fresh food robot. Referred to as Sally, this salad robot can provide students with a healthy meal from 7:30am to 1:00am. Chowbotics, a food robotics company, partnered with Holy Cross to make Sally the first fresh food robot at a college/university in Massachusetts, according to the Chowbotics press release.
Marty Dudek, Senior Associate Director of Operations shared why the College decided to add a fresh food robot: “Dining Services took the opportunity to add another healthy dining option to campus that would be cutting edge and available to students any time the Hogan Campus Center is open. In today’s competitive job market it is a continuing challenge to fill and retain positions in the food service industry. With this challenge Dining Services needs to think out-side the box and for us the answer was Sally.”
With up to 22 ingredients, the fresh food robot can provide students with a healthy alternative after Kimball dining hall and the Crossroads deli and salad bar have closed. While Sally can currently only provide salads, future potential options include grain and breakfast bowls, which Dudek stated will happen. Additionally, Sally helps to reduce the risk of contamination of food, as the machine is kept at the ideal temperature, and ingredients are kept sanitary and regularly replaced.
Dudek shared that, so far, responses from the campus community have been positive. Sophia Verra ’22 explained that she appreciated the speed and ease of using Sally, as well as the salad’s freshness: “Many health conscious students and students with special vegetarian/keto/vegan diets are always looking for the healthiest dining options on a college campus, which often is difficult to come by. Having said that, easy and convenient access to a ‘design-your-own’ salad makes eating healthy a fun and enjoyable experience.”
A Holy Cross Senior, Alexis Fairbanks, also emphasized the convenience of using Sally: “As I was running late for class I needed a quick and fast alternative for lunch. I could not be more satisfied today with my experience! I liked that I was able to pick exactly what I wanted and was able to watch it dispense. I am pleased to say that it ran smoothly and was very clean. Thank you for adding this for students and staff while some days can be busier than others. I will be using Sally in the future.”
Sally the Salad Robot is not the only new addition to Holy Cross dining this year. Dudek shared that Cool Beans now has Dr. Smoothie brand smoothies instead of the Freshens smoothies they used to have. Dr. Smoothie products are distributed by Good as Gold Coffee in Worcester, which will also be bringing a double dark roast coffee to campus next semester.
A final change to Holy Cross dining for the 2019-2020 year is the addition of a grain bowl station in Crossroads. As Dudek shared, students can also look forward to more “plant forward and gluten free options” at Holy Cross dining locations in the future.