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Holy Cross Dining Expands Wellness Initiatives With Sally the Food Robot

The world’s first fresh food robot offers students access to healthy meals day and night
October 18th, 2019 by 
Image of student using Sally the Food Robot. Photo courtesy of Holy Cross Dining

Photo courtesy of Holy Cross Dining

There’s a new chef on the Hill and her name is Sally. This chef has just one specialty: salad.

Holy Cross debuted “the world’s first fresh food robot” to students, faculty and campus visitors at the beginning of the 2019-20 academic year, in partnership with Silicon Valley food robotics company, Chowbotics.

Featured on Bon Appétit’s list of “7 Healthiest College Dining Halls in the Country” in 2017, the Holy Cross Dining Services team takes great pride in offering students a large number of healthy and delicious dining options. Making those options accessible late at night has always been a challenge, but Marty Dudek, associate director of operations for dining services, found the perfect solution in Sally.

Located in Hogan Campus Center’s Cool Beans coffee shop, Sally is accessible from 7:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. weekdays during the academic year, and accepts Crusader Cash or credit cards as forms of payment. Salads cost an average of $6.75 each, depending on the ingredients selected.

About the size of an ATM, Sally the Robot gives users the option of choosing a suggested salad recipe or customize their own on the touchscreen. Inside, 22 canisters are chilled to exactly 34 degrees Fahrenheit and filled with fresh vegetables, different lettuce types, protein options (including grilled chicken) and dressings.

For now, Sally will only serve salads, with additional options, such as breakfast and grain bowls, to be added at a later date.

“At Holy Cross, we strive to provide convenient, healthy, tasty and varied food options for our students,” says Linda Nardella, director of dining services. “This year, we’re excited to introduce Sally the Robot, a new and innovative way to order a fresh meal on campus.”

The benefits of Sally are many, according to Nardella. For one thing, the robot can make salad in under a minute. Also, it will tell you precisely how many calories your salad is delivering, let you fine-tune the calorie total by adding or subtracting ingredients and view full nutritional details for each selection. The robot’s proprietary technology also greatly reduces the risk of foodborne illness, as ingredients are kept sanitary and in separate canisters.

The decision to bring Sally the Robot to campus aligns with the College’s participation in the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative, a working group of scholars and campus dining leaders looking to provide healthier and sustainable food options for students and staff.

So while college dining isn’t always synonymous with healthy eating, Holy Cross is changing the game, one salad at a time.

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