The dark side of food delivery: How it affects the security of your campus
Written by Steven Sperry
Food delivery has revolutionized the way we consume food, with companies such as Uber Eats, DoorDash, and Grubhub providing customers with easy access to their favorite meals from their favorite restaurants. And students are the heaviest users of food delivery apps. However, while the convenience of food delivery cannot be overstated, its impact on the security of schools and the safety of their students and staff hasn’t always been positive. Here are two significant security challenges that come with food delivery.
Crimes of opportunity
The rise of food delivery has created a new set of challenges for the security of campuses, including an increase in crimes of opportunity. Unlike the employees of package delivery companies like UPS, Fedex, and the USPS, food delivery workers are usually lower-paid gig (contract) workers who haven’t undergone rigorous criminal background checks. When they arrive on campus with a food delivery, they can be admitted to a school building without any screening or supervision. Since food delivery is a high-turnover occupation, it’s more likely than not that the delivery worker has never been to the building before. Because they’re not familiar with the layout, they can wander through secure areas, looking for the recipient of the delivery. Dishonest individuals can and do steal unattended items, putting students’ personal information at risk and causing them to lose their property. In a worst case scenario, students’ personal safety can be put at risk, especially in residential buildings like apartments and dorms.
A second challenge food deliveries pose to schools is the potential for tipping disputes to lead to violent or threatening behavior. There are many well-publicized instances of food delivery workers, angry over the size of their tips, banging on doors or engaging in otherwise threatening behavior in an attempt to frighten or intimidate a customer into increasing the tip. It goes without saying that students should never be made to feel unsafe on campus, and it’s the responsibility of the school to ensure that campuses are free of threats and intimidation.
What can be done?
To mitigate these security risks, schools must take proactive steps to ensure that food deliveries are properly managed. To keep food delivery workers out of residential areas, many student housing buildings have resorted to implementing drop-off tables or having front desk staff receive and manage food deliveries. While this approach helps restrict delivery workers’ access to secure areas, it creates its own set of challenges, including lost or stolen food deliveries; distractions for front desk staff; cluttered lobbies; and a higher risk of foodborne illness, for which the school may be held liable. To address these challenges, some colleges and universities are implementing food delivery management (FDM) solutions. An FDM solution is a food-safe “smart locker” that manages and monitors every food delivery. FDM solutions enhance campus security and student safety by acting as a buffer between delivery workers and students.
While food delivery services give students unprecedented convenience and selection, they also create new security challenges for colleges and universities. By taking proactive measures to properly manage food deliveries, educational institutions can enhance the security of their campuses and the safety of their students and staff.
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