5 Of The Best Dining Halls On University Campuses

Everyone knows college students like to eat. It seems like for every hour they study, they spend another hour beating the munchies.

Perhaps that’s why so many college campuses have placed a large focus on food in the last decade.

The dining experience has certainly improved on college campuses. Students can find options including on-campus farmer’s markets, locally-sourced produce, vegan and gluten-free options and even antibiotic-free meats.

It seems that a select few have really raised the ante when it comes to university dining.

In this article, we look at five of the best dining halls on university campuses.

1: Kent State University

This university has opened its doors wide for vegetarians (non-meat eaters) and vegans (non-meat and dairy eaters), or those just looking to eat less meat.

Kent State University offers a call ahead vegan and vegetarian meal program. Called Veggie-A-Go-Go, students can eat meat-free conveniently.

They also have the first gluten-free dining hall on a college campus in the United States. Prentice Café gives students a new outlook on eating healthy. Not only is the hall gluten-free, but they only serve healthy, locally-grown items. Their wellness zone is also vegan and vegetarian.

The school also boasts its own food truck, Fork in the Road, with its own Twitter page advertising locations and menu items.

Kent State dining is dedicated to great food in a community-type experience. They center the dining experience around culinary expertise, fresh ingredients, healthy options and a shared environmental and social responsibility.

Lastly, all of their convenient carry-out containers are 100% biodegradable.

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2: Bowdoin College

Their mantra, from William Shakespeare, is “Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.”

Found in the number one spot on several university top dining lists, Bowdoin College finds itself in this top spot with the Princeton Review and The Daily Meal.

Like Kent State, they are dedicated to sustainability. They have their own eco-container program that encourages students to save money by reusing their to-go containers.

Students also save 5% on drink purchases by bringing their own coffee cups.

Bowdoin also grows much of their organic produce on the campus.

This top college treats its students regularly to gourmet dishes such as mussels with garlic and white wine or Asian-style pork with duck sauce and julienne vegetables.

The campus also features its own pub and grill serving burgers, sandwiches and salads.

They are perhaps most famous for their lobster bakes. They serve fresh lobsters, steamed clams, corn on the cob and a blueberry bake on special occasions.

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3: Cornell University

The chefs at this university build dishes around world-class flavors.
• They treat students to Italian dishes highlighting freshly rolled sushi.
• They host a harvest dinner celebrating foods grown in their own backyard.
• They host themed nights including the Diwali Festival featuring Indian food, a Mardi Gras celebration with Cajun-style meals and a Harry Potter themed dinner.

With ten all-you-can-eat dining rooms complete with create your own pancake and omelet bars, everyone can find something to eat at Cornell.

They even have salad bars, kosher stations and ethnic and regional food items.

More than 20% of their food is locally and regionally grown. Their own dairy processing plant is responsible for most of their dairy products.

They, like Bowdoin, offer discounts when students bring their own mugs.

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4: Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech is another campus dedicated to eating healthy.

Students simply go online to check each dining facility’s menu to track selections and nutrition information. They can even do a search filtering out certain food options.

Like the other schools on our list, they are committed to sustainability using tray-less dining, composting and recycling.

The university’s six-acre farm produces much of the fruits and vegetables, and others are sourced locally.

They, too, host many themed meals and serve such delicacies as tomato and fig balsamic sourdough pizza, grilled ginger-soy glazed trout and Maine lobster.

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5: Boston University

This college believes in promoting sustainability.

Students can participate in the school’s CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program by purchasing a share of seasonal produce.

Their pork, beef, turkey and chicken is humanely raised, and they source most of it locally.

Plus, Boston University hosts its own fall farmers’ market.

Each semester, they host a visiting chef’s night where they have visiting restaurant or celebrity chefs contribute to their menu.

In addition, the school offers nutrition counseling and healthy meal planning.

In their late night kitchen, students can eat until 11 pm part of the week and until 1 am Thursday- Saturday.

One of the more interesting options on campus is the flu meal program. When students are sick, they can purchase a meal online that is then delivered by student volunteers. It’s a great way to keep sick students home.

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Final Thoughts

Dining halls on university campuses have taken the term special to new levels.

They’re serving up meals built around sustainability with the hope of reducing their environmental footprint. In fact, they are innovators when it comes to minimizing waste and recycling.

These universities have put some thought and effort into creating accessibility for people with special dietary needs.

They are also concentrating on providing unique, versatile options to enhance their students’ dining experience. Today’s college students probably don’t find themselves getting bored with their dining hall meals.

Finally, with a nod towards nutrition and wellness, universities seem well-equipped to stave off the freshman-15. With nutrition help, wellness programs and open access to locally-sourced, nourishing meals, students on college campuses are happily eating healthy foods.

Have you been to any of these college campuses and tried their food? Do you have another favorite university dining spot? Please share below.