What is Tapingo and Why is HDH Talking About it?

(Anabel King / The Triton)

Tapingo, an independent app that already is in place at a number of colleges, launched at UC San Diego in February. The app allows people to order food ahead of time to pick up later for convenience. Currently, nearly all of the on-campus dining halls and markets are available on the app, except Foodworx, Goody’s Market, and Sixth Market. Tapioca Express, Lemongrass, and Santorini in Price Center have also joined the list of choices.

Students can use Dining Dollars for dining halls, credit cards for Price Center restaurants, and Triton Cash for both. On Tapingo, users see a virtual line and wait times to help with their decisions. When users order on the app, the order is printed and goes into the queue with the physical orders.

“HDH [Housing Dining Hospitality] hopes that this app will help students in budgeting their time when deciding which dining hall to go to depending on how busy it is,” said Warren Senator and HDH Advisory Committee Member Zahabiya Nuruddin.

“The process is definitely not over though,” said Brandon Milledge, the Marshall HDH Representative in an email. “For example, there’s no option for extra protein on burgers at 64. Hopefully that’ll be fixed soon, as I’ve emailed my contact in the team about that.” Milledge estimated that lines will shorten noticeably by mid-Spring Quarter. “However, things at some of the busier places will definitely feel more chaotic, at least for the meantime, as the employees and managers get used to having this system around.”

There are also some opposing voices regarding the app. According to Nuruddin, there are concerns about the impact Tapingo will have on student workers. Some students feel that facilities are already overwhelmed, and the introduction of an extra service will not help the situation.

“However, I am sure that if [using Tapingo] becomes a major problem, HDH will be more than willing to implement any necessary changes,” Nuruddin said.

Milledge also mentioned the same concern: “HDH employees at some dining halls are already overworked and understaffed, so that adding this additional service feels like just another weight on employees’ shoulders.” HDH employees are already facing pressure due to what student leadership and HDH’s advisory committee are describing as deteriorating food quality.

Still, the committee and Milledge believe that the app is, as he says, a “net positive in terms of convenience for students. Whether or not that is true remains to be seen, but I think that once the kinks get smoothened out a bit, then we’ll be a great example for other universities to follow in terms of convenient food services.”

Milledge has heard other concerns from his constituents as well. There are concerns that Tapingo will negatively affect people who are waiting in the physical lines. One of his constituents said that he likes to order face-to-face, but he feels like being forced to use Tapingo because the line is slowed down since employees are dealing with the Tapingo orders first. Here raises the question that should Tapingo orders jump to the front of the line?  

“The system is definitely not perfect, and I’m not sure what the solution is,” Milledge said, “but I know there’s a better way out there somewhere. Tapingo will definitely be going through changes, HDH and I just have to figure out what the heck those changes will be in order to fix those issues.”

Cindy Zhan is a staff writer at The Triton.