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The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

A look into food delivery apps

Students discuss the usage of food delivery apps and leaving campus for lunch, along with their associated costs and benefits.
Illustration by Sabrina Simek

It is 10:45 a.m. Chloe Ferreira ’25 has just left her Precalculus class, and she, along with a crowd of other students, walks down the stairs in Chalmers Hall. At the bottom of the stairs, she passes two students leaving the cafeteria with bowls of grilled chicken and white rice. Ferreira, sick of the chicken tenders and ice cream she had the day before, walks out to the Quad and opens Postmates instead of joining the 30-person line in the cafeteria. Within one minute, her Erewhon order—a combo plate with carne asada, sweet potatoes and roasted carrots—is confirmed. Ferreira said she decides to order lunch to school often because the food in the cafeteria can be repetitive and dull.

“I order lunch about three times per week because the food from the cafeteria gets very repetitive, and I often want something healthier,” Ferreira said. “I wish the cafeteria had more consistently balanced meal options. I’ve shifted from deciding during lunch that I will order food to now expecting that I am not going to want to get food from the cafeteria.”

Ferreira is not the only student who uses food delivery apps to order food while on campus. According to a Chronicle poll, 36.5% of 115 students polled said they have ordered lunch to school with a food delivery app. Nikki Dadlani ’25 said though she uses Postmates sometimes to order food, she has seen other students use delivery apps far too often.

“I’ve ordered food to school before, but I try to do it only when there is nothing in the cafeteria when I have a stressful day, I want something yummy or when my friends are doing it,” Dadlani said. “A lot of people order food to school excessively, and I’ve seen a lot more people order food this year compared to last year.”

All food deliveries to campus during lunch are directed to the North Entrance, where Security Guard Jeff Anderson assists in delivering the food to students. Anderson said he has experienced challenges in the process of communicating with the drivers.

“Twenty to 25 students pick up food during the average lunch period,” Anderson said. “I see a lot of the same kids ordering and picking up lunch. However, many of the drivers don’t speak good English, which can make the process difficult.”

Illustration by Iris Chung

This phenomenon is not limited to the school. Similar apps have gained immense use around the world. The four most popular apps around the country are DoorDash, Uber Eats, Grubhub and Postmates. Nationally, DoorDash has a 67% share of sales, UberEats has 23%, GrubHub has 8% and Postmates has 2%, according to Bloomberg Second Measure. However, of the 43 students who have used delivery apps that were polled by The Chronicle, 65.1% have used Postmates, 48.8% have used DoorDash, 37.2% have used Uber Eats and 2.3% have used Grubhub. Mark Ma ’24 said he often uses Postmates to order dinner for himself and his brother.

“Since our parents are out of town frequently, my brother and I use Postmates to get dinner on many nights,” Ma said. “We vary the types of food we order frequently. Sometimes it’s Asian food like thai or pho, but other times we opt for something like Chick-fil-A. The delivery fees and other costs add up, so we try to take advantage of any discounts that Postmates is offering on that day.”

Dadlani said she uses DoorDash because it is often cheaper than Postmates.

“The prices are excessive,” Dadlani said. “I use DoorDash instead of Postmates because usually the delivery fee is less, and it has a very similar selection.”

Illustration by Ashley Ham

The convenience of food delivery comes with a hefty price tag, though. For example, an iced vanilla latte from Alfred Coffee costs $7 at the shop, and even without delivery fees, the drink costs $8.05. Including all of the fees and taxes, it costs $12.82 to have Postmates deliver the same order to the Upper School, an 83% price increase. Similarly, a chicken burrito bowl from Chipotle costs $11.85 in the restaurant, but the same order costs $19.30 on Postmates, a 63% increase. Neither of these prices includes a tip for the driver. For orders under $15, Postmates suggests tipping from $3 to $6, while for orders over $15, it suggests tipping based on a percentage of the order total.

However, if five people were to order five Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowls on Postmates and split the costs, it would amount to $15.92 per person, a 34.3% increase from if you were to go to the restaurant. Andres Alas ’25 said he only uses delivery apps when ordering with a group of his friends.

“I order food maybe once every two weeks,” Alas said. “If my friends and I don’t like the food in the cafeteria on a certain day, then we will text each other and decide what to order. We almost always do group orders so [that] the delivery fees are not as much for one person, and we can all split it evenly.”

Ferreira said purchasing food from the cafeteria can also be expensive.

“The prices of delivery fees and tips when ordering food can start to add up,” Ferreira said. “However, when you’re buying food from the cafeteria, though, you’re a bit blind to how much you’re spending because you just [scan your ID].”

As another alternative to eating at the cafeteria, seniors have the privilege of being able to leave campus during lunch. Sam Pulaski ’24 said he used to occasionally order food to campus, but since he has been able to leave campus, he has done that instead.

“I leave campus two to three times a week,” Pulaski said. “I love to be able to get good food with my friends, although it can get expensive. Last year, I would use Postmates during lunch from time to time, but I haven’t at all this year. Even though I eat off campus a lot, you can get healthier and cheaper food on campus.”

Eric Vartany ’24 said despite this, seniors leaving campus for lunch makes it difficult for the grade to foster a unified spirit.

“Off-campus lunch is detrimental to the Harvard-Westlake senior student body,” Vartany said. “Harvard-Westlake is supposed to foster a strong community in our final years. Yet, off-campus lunch allows for the community to be further disjointed and disconnected. If half the senior class is off campus on a given day, how can we be expected to bond as a grade? We become a grade of individuals when we are supposed to be a united grade.”

Currently, seniors are the only students who are allowed to leave campus for lunch. However, a junior was caught leaving campus and was brought before the Honor Board, according to an email from Prefect Council sent Feb. 20. Dadlani said although she wishes she could go off campus to spend more time with her senior friends, she does not leave campus when it is not allowed.

“I have wanted to go off campus a little more,” Dadlani said. “I had permission to leave campus twice, and it was so much fun. Now, I wish I could go off campus because I have a lot of senior friends who I want to spend lunch with, but I can’t because they get to go off campus, and I don’t. It might be nice for juniors to have one day a cycle where we can go off campus. I don’t feel the need to go off campus when it’s not allowed, but I’m excited to do so next year.”

Dadlani said students tend to not realize how much money they spend using food delivery apps.

People at the school don’t pay attention to how much they’re spending, and how much they’re ordering,” Dadlani said. “It’s something we shouldn’t have access to. I take advantage of it sometimes, but we have an amazing cafeteria, and we shouldn’t need to use outside resources.”

Illustration by Annabelle Cheung
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Alex Dinh, Assistant Features Editor

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