Student Life

Top 10 Coolest College Dining Halls

Elizabeth Hoyt

March 13, 2017

Top 10 Coolest College Dining Halls
Meal plans at these schools are worth he investment.
Given the choice, would you rather eat cafeteria food or restaurant food? Most people, at least those with functioning taste buds, would choose the latter. Additionally, it seems as though everyone has one or more dietary restrictions to take into consideration. Cafeterias aren’t exactly known for their dietary accommodations. That is, until now. Thanks to the demands of students across the country, college dining halls are becoming more and more like restaurants every day. Many have even earned coveted dining awards in the process, not only for food choices but for aspects like sourcing, waste reduction, healthy menus, sustainable practices and more. Students no longer have to choose between affordable meals and delicious foods.
According to Best Colleges, here are 2017’s ten best dining halls in America.
10. Hendrix College
Location: Conway, AR
Highlights: Small but mighty describes this school’s dining services. The school has eliminated processed foods and the residential dining program has been awarded either gold or silver Loyal E. Horton Award medals for more than a decade. The dining staff is friendly and accommodating to the point that students receive homemade birthday cakes on their big day!
9. SUNY at Geneseo
Location: Geneseo, NY
Highlights: Geneseo signed the TasteNY Pledge in 2015, which committed them to focus on local New York grown and produced products. In the first year alone, 20% of their food and beverages were sourced locally and it’s only increased since. The school has also earned rankings such as #2 Gluten-Free College (2014) in addition to winning multiple NACUFS medals. One more cool detail? The school has all-you-can-eat restaurants on campus including Kasha, a gluten-free kitchen in Food Studio North.
8. University of Chicago
Location: Chicago, IL
Highlights: This school makes a point to support local businesses owned by minorities and women, purchasing nearly 40% of their food stock from them. They also source all milk from a dairy in Michigan that’s only about 150 miles from campus.
7. Pitzer College
Location: Claremont, CA
Highlights: Pitzer incorporates consciousness and fun in their dining halls. Their website offers Google Map details of where their local foods are sourced. They also offer reusable carry out containers for students to reduce waste. As for the fun? Theme nights are increasingly popular, like Mongolian Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, etc.
6. Vanderbilt University
Location: Nashville, TN
Highlights: Boasting more than 40 Food and Dining Awards since 1997, Vanderbilt takes the dining experience into the 21st century with a Campus Dining App and Twitter account. Night owls will love that Vanderbilt also has several dining halls open 24 hours per day.
5. University of Massachusetts - Amherst
Location: Amherst, MA
Highlights: UMass has the second-largest campus dining operation in the U.S., serving over 40,000 meals daily. They’re SPE certified, which is the industry’s recognition that a restaurant serves foods that are both healthy and delicious. Plus, they strive to incorporate unique ingredients so students are introduced to things like quinoa, pomegranates and more.
4. Emory University
Location: Atlanta, GA
Highlights: Emory has a student-run Food Advisory Committee that meets monthly, bringing students and dining staff together in order to ensure students’ dining hall needs (and wants) are met. Emory also utilizes seasonal produce when available and, luckily, the Atlanta climate allows for plenty of options.
3. University of California-Berkeley
Location: Berkeley, CA
Highlights: “Caldining” is Berkeley’s food service program and it’s one of the greenest in the nation. In fact, the program’s goal is to reduce waste to 0% by 2020. In the meantime, they use practices like being mindful of sourcing foods locally (where all ingredients are sourced within 250 miles of campus).
2. Kennesaw State University
Location: Kennesaw, GA
Highlights: KSU takes the cake when it comes to sustainability. After starting a Farm-to-Campus program in 2010, the school now grows a quarter of its own produce, raises its own chickens and an apiary to produce honey used on campus. The program also recycles food waste via composting, vermiculture and, as if that weren’t enough, converts used cooking oil to biodiesel.
1. Liberty University
Location: Lynchburg, VA
Highlights: Liberty University boasts nearly 20 unique dining areas with healthy food choices, including gluten-free options. They also have a “simple servings” station which offers food options free of the most common allergens. It’s also one of the only dining halls in the nation to feature a BBQ slow-cooker and Mongolian grill in addition to international menu choices, unlimited pizza, smoothies, coffee and a salad bar.

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