The Dining Hall Dilemma: Solved.by Brea Weinreb on Sep, 19 2012
Any student would agree the most stressful aspect of eating in the dining halls is the uncertainty. We all know the feeling of eagerly swiping in, ready to devour a Malibu burger and sweet potato fries, only to find out that today is actually fish and chip day. Or there are the days, like last Wednesday, when I decided to substitute Café 3 for Crossroads, and then later heard about the decadent fondue fountain that made a one-time appearance at Crossroads. (Side note: I am still recovering from that loss.) Sometimes I think to myself, if I only knew the menu in advance. My prayers were answered by Jeffrey Butterfield and Shouvik Dutta, the ingenious creators of the CalMeals app for Android.
Butterfield, a third year Computer Science major at Berkeley, frequents Cal dining halls often and, like me, wished there was an option to see the menus in advance. He came up with the idea for CalMeals last year over winter break and began working on it with his roommate, Shouvik Dutta, this past spring. The two submitted CalMeals to Berkeley Student Technology Council’s Second Annual Web App Competition, where they received honorable mention. Dutta, a third year Industrial Engineering and Operations Research student, reworked the interface over the summer, and CalMeals is now up and running as a free app for Android technologies.
CalMeals eliminates the uncertainty from your average dining hall experience by displaying the day’s menus for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even latenight for Crossroads, Café 3, and Foothill. The app goes so far as to sort the dishes into intuitive categories — something any food-lover would appreciate. But wait, there’s more! CalMeals also allows users to rate the dining hall meals from 1-5 stars, which would have been useful in preventing me from ingesting the questionable curry at Crossroads Monday afternoon. A low overall rating for a meal helps steer hungry students from one dining hall to another.
Of course, all this eating tends to get expensive, costing upward of 20 points a day. Butterfield and Dutta responded to this concern by creating a portal within CalMeals where students can check their meal point balances using their CalNet I.D.’s. If Android responses continue to be positive, the iPhone crowd might be able to join in on the fun soon as well. With an app like this, who needs the offerings of the Asian Ghetto?!