Campus dining ever better with URdining app

A new iOS application hopes to improve campus dining experiences for undergraduates.  Xuefeng Peng ’17 and Jacob Niebloom ’18 have created an app called URdining that will serve as a database for all information relating to food on campus.  The app, which is now available in the Apple App Store, includes day-to-day menus, nutritional information, and hours of operation for each dining hall, making information typically found on CampusDish easily accessible to the student body.

Peng, a sophomore majoring in computer science and applied mathematics, laid down much of the coding groundwork for the app.  Peng transferred to the University of Rochester from Stony Brook University last fall.  The idea for this app came out of his difficulties in navigating through SBU’s eight different dining facilities.  Without a localized source of information regarding menus on a daily basis, he often found himself wandering in and out of dining halls with a stomach full of only disappointment.

Though he began work on the code before he came to the River Campus, Peng is excited to be bring dining solutions to his new college home.  “I really want to use what I have learned to bring convenience and diversity to the University community,” he said.

While the prototype only took four months to complete, Peng admitted that he owes the successful launch of the application to all of the collaborative work that went into its production.  Niebloom, also a computer science major, assisted with the code’s progress as well as logistics regarding technological security.  Guidance from Natalie Antal from the Center for Entrepreneurship and Kevin Aubrey from Dining Services was also integral to the application’s development.

The undergraduates also successfully applied to FbStart, a program designed to help early stage mobile startups build and grow their apps.  The team received $20,000 in free tools and services from the Facebook-based program, which is one of the nation’s leading and most competitive incubators, boasting a 3% acceptance rate.

Looking forward, Peng is excited to see the student body benefit from the new accessibility of information offered by this app and hopes to make campus dining ever better for coming generations of Rochester students.

The app offers menus and nutrition information for all major dining halls on River Campus, a user rating system and comment system, and the ability to send push notifications regarding special events and other dining announcements. Users can sign into the app via email address, Facebook login, or Google+ login.  The app, found here, is available for download for all iOS mobile users.

Photo by Chengyu Deng ‘ 17

Eating Globally and Locally – at Danforth

By Melissa Greco Lopes
Univ. Communications

During Global Local Dinner, students at the University of Rochester sampled Sambusak pitas, Aloo Dum spiced potato stew, and pulled pork tostada, three very different dishes with one main ingredient. Each entrée was made to showcase food purchased from local farmers and producers. The dinner, which is a capstone event during the University’s Local Foods Week, was held on Tuesday, Nov. 12, in Danforth Dining Center.

Now in its eighth year, Local Foods Week spreads awareness of Rochester’s initiatives to support local produce and provide sustainable food options. Over the last decade, the University has made a concerted effort to bolster its commitment by expanding its partnerships with vendors and producers. Today, nearly 40 percent of everything sold in the University’s dining facilities is sourced, manufactured, or packaged from more than 40 vendors across New York State. University partners range from Upstate Farms Cooperative in West Seneca to the Baker Street Bread Company on Park Avenue.

While Local Foods Week typically spotlights autumn entrées, this year chefs Keith Rosengren and Chris Cameron planned a menu that also celebrated International Education Week, which promotes ways students can internationalize their educational experiences. The result: Chinese chicken lettuce wraps using bibb lettuce from Bolton Farms, French cauliflower au gratin, and Belgium pumpkin waffles with local fruit compote, among other dishes.

Representatives from the Pierogie Guy showcased Polish deconstructed Galumpkis stew with cheddar potato pierogies and the owners of Le Petit Poutine food truck brought their Canadian specialty to the grill. Additionally, 3 Square Kitchen, a local foods distributor, and Buffalo-based Rich’s Products were on hand to speak with students about their products.

The Global Local dinner also featured tinikling dancers from the Filipino American Students’ Association and a performance by members of the Korean Percussion Group, among other entertainment.

Video courtesy of Dawn Wendt and photo courtesy of Blake Silberberg.

For Second Year, Rochester Named Vegan-Friendly College

Dining Services – For the second year in a row, the University of Rochester has been chosen as one of the Most Vegan-Friendly Colleges in the U.S by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Peta2, PETA’s youth division, is letting fans decide who gets the top honor as the Most Vegan-Friendly College through an online voting contest. Rochester is up against 31 other institutions in the small schools division. Help the University land the top spot and cast your vote for the U of R here.

Rochester’s nomination to the list was based on a number of factors, including both the quality and quantity of vegan options available to students on campus as well as feedback from students on the receptiveness and creativity of dining staff. SAVVY and Team Green are two groups on campus whose efforts have helped the University increase its vegan options. Team Green, in partnership with SAVVY, UHS, and Dining Services, was instrumental in organizing Meatless Mondays, while SAVVY has worked with Dining Services on initiatives including the Vegan Zone, consistent vegan soups, and various featured dishes. Check out some of SAVVY’s favorite vegan and vegetarian dishes here or for questions about the vegan/vegetarian lifestyle or vegan/vegetarian dining at Rochester, email Campus Nutritionist Christina Patterson at

UR Rated as a Vegan-friendly Campus

Univ. Communications – The University of Rochester was recently recognized by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) as one of the country’s most vegan-friendly small schools.  Though UR came in sixth behind schools like Northwestern, Georgetown, and Brown, this was also the first year the University was included on the list.

The rise in vegan food options on campus are due to increased administrative awareness on the part of Dining Services and active campaigning and outreach by the Student Association of Vegan and Vegetarian Youth (SAVVY).  On-campus vegan options such as kung pao tofu, vegan cheese quesadillas, and tofu ravioli with wild-mushroom pesto were highlighted.

The ranking factored in online voting, quality and variety of vegan food, schools’ enthusiasm in promoting their options, and student feedback.

SAVVY’s mission is to “help reduce animal suffering by increasing awareness of animal rights issues and providing support for vegetarians, vegans, and anyone who is interested in learning about how our dietary and lifestyle choices affect animals, humans, and the environment.” The group hosts potlucks, film screenings, and discussion meetings and is open to anyone, vegetarian or not. They meet weekly on Thursdays at 7 p.m. in the Ruth Merril Center.

For more information, check out SAVVY on Facebook and the Campus Club Connection.  And of course, don’t forget to check out all the tasty vegan options provided by Dining Services every day!

Article written by Maya Dukmasova, a Take 5 Scholar at the University of Rochester and an intern at University Communications. She majored in philosophy and religion and focused her Take 5 year on researching the way American media covers current events in the Muslim world. An aspiring journalist, Dukmasova has freelanced for Rochester Magazine, the Phoenix New Times, and the Daily News Egypt in Cairo. She also maintains two blogs, one devoted to culture and society in Russia ( and the other to photography (


Photo courtesy of SAVVY.

New Dining Digs Have Students Chowing Down In Style

Univ. Communications – Members of the University community celebrated the grand opening of the newly renovated Danforth Dining Hall and a new campus marketplace in late August, just in time for the arrival of students for the 2011–12 school year.

Check out Danforth in person – or see the slideshow here.

The newly designed dining center features Danforth Fresh Food Company, an all-you-care-to-eat residential restaurant that features fresh, made-to-order meals for students at the University. With a daily, rotating menu, the facility offers a variety of culinary options, including vegetarian and vegan.

The restaurant’s new design brings the cooking out of the kitchen and into visible, open stations with fresh ingredients front and center so that students can watch—and direct—the cooking of their meals. The facility will have an open-hearth oven, two sauté areas, a Mongolian grill, deli/salad bar, and grill. The new space also includes modern furniture with an eco-friendly twist; plastic chairs in the restaurant were created using 100 percent recycled Coca Cola products, while the facility’s aluminum chairs incorporate 80 percent recycled products.