Sophomore visual and media arts major Erick Breckenridge brings the famous line of “with great power comes great responsibility” to a delicious, new level.
As the assistant production manager of Sodexo, Emerson’s food provider, Breckenridge said he has witnessed the general struggles that the student body experiences with the dining hall, and, as a result, he created EmersonDiningHall.com.
Breckenridge said he also works as a cashier and social media marketing manager for Sodexo, and he helps with inventory, recipes, and management of the dining hall staff. Since the beginning of his freshman year, Breckenridge said he set out to improve its weaknesses, one of which includes Emerson.sodexomyway.net, the website provided for Emerson students.
“[The Sodexo website] looks very ‘90s,” Breckenridge said. “It is not formatted well for current generation students. The menus are consistently wrong.”
Breckenridge said that he has the great advantage of knowing the daily menu as an employee and understands how those who don’t can be confused.
“I wish it was easier for [students] to find out what the menus are for the day,” Breckenridge said. “I always feel so bad when students waste a meal swipe to find out that there is only continental breakfast available, for example, which is just cereal and oatmeal.”
Before he created the new website, Breckenridge said he used to write out the daily menu on a word document, take a picture of it, and post it from the Sodexo Facebook account. However, according to Breckenridge, it was not reaching enough people. Breckenridge said that the goal of this website is to connect the personalities of the dining hall staff to the students.
“When there is a faceless organization, it is easy for animosity and hatred to happen,”
As a result, Breckenridge presented his idea of a new website along with his prototype to his manager at Sodexo. Breckenridge created the menus using Canva, an online graphic design software, and bought a subscription to a domain name through Wix, a web development platform, according to Breckenridge.
“I like [the new website] because it definitely has a lot more useful information and the layout is organized well, whereas the old one is not as easily accessed,” Allison Patt, a freshman visual and media arts major, said.
Some features on the new website include a link to MyFitnessPal, an online journal that records daily calorie count, dietary information, and exercise. All of the nutrition information for the food that Sodexo provides can also be accessed and recorded on that site, according to Breckenridge.
“I’m very interested in diet and health,” Breckenridge said. “It is important to know what’s healthy and how to eat healthy.”
In order to better connect the dining hall staff to the student body, Breckenridge said he has included an Employee Spotlight as a feature on the new website.This includes a name, profile picture, and general interests. Gerard Burke Emerson’s newest grill chef, is currently being featured.
“I like how [the Employee Spotlight] puts me out there for students to know about,” Burke said. “At the end of the day, we’re all just people trying to inspire one another.”
Breckenridge said he has also included a sidebar with information on events around campus and at the dining hall.
“I really care about this campus,” Breckenridge said. “I really want to get student orgs to share their events besides the bulletin boards.”
Besides using Google Analytics to see size of the audience that’s being reached, Breckenridge said he is also receiving suggestions from students about possible changes such as push notifications for favorite meals, photos, and calorie, sodium, and fat count for each individual dish. Although Sodexo uses stock photos, Breckenridge said he prefers to take his own pictures of the food prepared daily.
“My style of marketing is genuine,” Breckenridge said. “I want to be able to say that this is a picture of the actual food from the actual dining hall that I actually ate that night.”
According to Breckenridge, most of the responses to his site so far have been positive. As someone who believes that Emerson deserves a better system, Breckenridge said he hopes that the site will help to improve the everyday lives of people at the college.
“I want students to care about the dining hall,” Breckenridge said, “and I want the dining hall to care about the students.”