CulinArt debuts app with specific menu details

Written By Tia Bailey, Co-Features/A&E Editor

With the Nutrislice app, students can view nutritional information about the food they’re eating and receive updates about new menus.

CulinArt, Point Park University’s food provider, has released a new app this semester called Nutrislice. The app was designed to list allergens and health information in the food and replace the weekly emailed menus.

“It’s to kind of give a better breakdown to students of all the dietary needs, calorie intake and carbs,” Katie Jacob, General Manager of CulinArt at Point Park said. “It’s just a healthier option and a way to get out all of the menus every day rather than on Sundays.”

The app was announced in an email sent out by Dean Keith Paylo at the beginning of the semester. The email had an attached PDF, which showed what the app can do. Nutrislice allows users to filter foods based on their dietary needs, connects to Amazon Alexa, gives a full list of ingredients in the food and more.

“Nutrislice will allow all visitors to this technology the opportunity to view menus, nutritional values, allergens, food specials, etc. right from your cell phone,” Paylo said in the email.

CulinArt provides the food for all of the dining options on campus, which includes the dining hall, Point Cafe, Point Perk and the Playhouse Cafe. CulinArt has been the university’s food provider since May 2016. Besides providing food in the on-campus facilities, CulinArt sometimes hosts Pop-Up Cafes and other small events on campus.

In the past, the food providers used to send out emails with the menus for the week every Sunday, but they found themselves having to make changes and the menus would no longer be accurate. With the Nutrislice app, they can put out the menus day-by-day.

While the app is useful for all students, it is especially helpful for those with dietary restrictions, like those who are vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, lactose intolerant and more. The app lists all allergens when a user clicks on the food. While there hasn’t been an increase in students with these restrictions this semester specifically, there has been a significant increase over the last couple of years.

“You hear of more people being vegan and vegetarian these days, and you also hear of different allergies coming out like dye allergies,” Jacob said. “So it definitely has grown over the past couple of years.”

Sophomore interdisciplinary studies major Jessica Dillon is a vegetarian who uses the app.

“You can specialize the search, and it’ll highlight foods that fit your needs, which is really nice,” Dillon said.

She uses the app mostly to see what’s in the dining hall.

“Last year I’d go in blind and end up seeing there was nothing I could eat,” she said.

Now, she looks on the Nutrislice app to see if there are suitable options for her rather than wasting a meal swipe to only get a bagel for dinner.

Cassie Griffis, a sophomore early education major, also has a dietary restriction. She can’t have dairy, and she uses the Nutrislice app everyday before she goes to the dining hall. Like Dillon, she finds the app helpful in saving meal swipes for something she can actually eat.

“Sometimes they don’t label the food in the dining hall, so I won’t know if it has dairy in it. But with the app, I can look to see what is in the food,” Griffis said. “Now that I have the app I can see a lot of foods that I can’t have.”

If she cannot eat anything in the dining hall, she knows to go to the cafe instead.

Both Dillon and Griffis find the app really helpful, as do other students. Although there are definitely students who are using the app, there has been no way to tell if the app has influenced dining hall or cafe usage.

Marissa Grant, a dietician who works with CulinArt at Point Park, is promoting the app around campus.

“You’ll see those different tabling events around with me at the table, showing the app and providing information to students so we get as much exposure to the app as we can,” Grant said.

Grant worked a pop-up table in the Point Cafe on Tuesday, Sept. 17th to promote the app and will continue to throughout the semester.

The app has many features already, but it’s going to have more, as students get used to it.

“We don’t want to over-stimulate anybody by giving them too many options at first, so we’re going to see how it goes, see what’s working, see what’s not working and work on those glitches first before moving on to the next thing,” Jacob said. “We just want to get the word out about the app first, and then we can keep growing it.”