Honors News: Best Campus Food!

Some critics of universities maintain that many schools spend too much on benefits for students: fancy residence halls, sprawling rec centers, and dining facilities that bear no resemblance to the old military-style “mess” halls of the past. Today, we are setting aside the arguments pro and con and focusing on one just one thing: Food!

Each year, The Daily Meal rates the dining facilities at major colleges and universities, with an emphasis on sustainability and the quality and variety of meals. Below is a list of the public universities that made the Top 75 list this year. Also included are excerpts from the Daily Meal profiles.

UMass Amherst—“You will never be bored eating at UMass Amherst. Events throughout the year include Local Chicken Dinner Day, Flavours of Canada, Pistachio Day, and Spring Dinner, and menu options range from Irish coffee bread pudding with Kahlúa sauce to chicken breast schnitzel with chipotle salsa.”

James Madison—“James Madison University definitely knows the importance of fun, which is why they throw events like Madipalooza, an outdoor spring festival, farm-to-fork dinners, and annual farmer’s markets, held four times throughout the fall. And even though the food in the dining halls is delicious, students also have access to multiple national chains, like Quiznos, Starbucks, and Red Mango, right on campus.”

Georgia—“Snelling Dining Commons is open 24 hours —a popular tradition for students is “Late-Night Snelling,” also known as “Snellebrating.” And improvement is definitely on the mind at University of Georgia. The new Bolton Dining Commons has interactive cooking platforms and options like breakfast all day, regional and international cuisine, and hand-spun milkshakes.”

UCLA—“UCLA is also committed to sustainability, and has received an award from PETA for being the most vegan-friendly campus. Mouthwatering offerings on campus include seafood pizza, chicken and dumplings, and chicken chili verde, and an in-house bakery provides almost all breads and baked goods.”

Miami Ohio—“Miami University boasts multiple conveniently located dining locations all around campus, including two 24/7 locations, a ‘50s-style diner in the student union, and a convenience store selling snacks and standard groceries.”

UC San Diego—“The chefs at UCSD are professionally trained by award-winning culinary schools, and the dining services have won a whole bunch of awards for food quality and taste. Embracing the Mexican heritage of the area, UCSD has an on-campus food truck called Torero Tu Go, which serves savory dishes like chicken skewers and skirt steak tacos.”

South Carolina—“Nine executive chefs are at the helm of the University of South Carolina’s dining program, which is made up of three “all-you-care-to-eat” dining halls and 27 on-campus retail locations… don’t be surprised to see chef Corey Green serving his famous leg of lamb with mint sauce, steak fries, and béarnaises!”

UC Berkeley—“…Berkeley is one of the best food towns in the country. But don’t worry — the food served on campus is likely to be better than anything you can get at a restaurant, with options like blackened fried catfish, red pepper and spinach pizza, and jerk chicken sandwiches.”

UC San Diego—“The school uses a bio-digester to reduce waste and turn it into energy. In fact, the University of San Diego was the first college campus in the country to install a bio-digester, and we think that’s pretty impressive. As for late-night dining, you’re covered with the campus food truck, or you could go to any of the 17 off-campus locations that accept University of SD Campus Cash.”

Purdue—“The dining services at Purdue have partnered with the student-run farm, which provides local produce like fresh herbs and tomatoes. On top of that, each student is given a reusable to-go cup at the beginning of the year and using it gives him or her discounts at dining locations around campus.”

Virginia Tech—“The Farms and Fields project provides local and organic meals, including apple chutney and Cheddar panini made with local cheese, and locally made, organic bread.”

UConn—“One of the University of Connecticut’s goals is to have all of their dining facilities green-certified, and they are well on their way to achieving that goal…The dining services also runs a Farm Fresh Market, where most of the food is sourced locally from the two student-run gardens.”

Georgia Tech—“ Don’t expect to find any dining halls at Georgia Tech, however; this past spring they were re-imagined from the top down and are now called community restaurants. Recipes were rewritten to include more fresh, house-made items; the culinary process was refined to be sustainable at every level; and fresh-baked pastries and desserts were added.”

UC Davis—“To start off, dining hall fare includes dishes like falafel lentil cakes, mandarin chicken salad, and white chocolate raspberry scones.”

Houston—“There are more than 30 dining locations on University of Houston’s campus, including Cougar Woods, a nut-free facility for students with severe allergies. Basically, whatever you want, you can get it at U of Houston.”

UC Santa Barbara—“Every quarter, UCSB’s dining services has a Green Chef Competition to educate students on sustainability as well as to entertain.”

UNC Chapel Hill—“There are 24 on-campus eateries and two main dining halls, at which you’ll find a regular schedule of special events and programming ranging from days highlighting ingredients like white pumpkin and kohlrabi to weekly tastings and samplings…”

Delaware—“UDel’s dining services help students along by serving delicious and healthful options like homemade butternut squash and apple soup, black and white sesame chicken, and herb-crusted flounder. All the nutritional information is also available online, and with 15 eateries on campus…”

Ball State—“At Ball State, seven professional chefs prepare scratch-made dishes in small batches, and menus rotate on a four-week schedule. Everything from salad dressings to house-smoked ribs is prepared in-house, and everything from sandwiches and salads to wraps, pizzas, pastas, stir-fries, and nachos is entirely customizable.”

Washington—“The UW farm grows fresh produce right on campus and dining services sells what they harvest at the District Market…An extra bonus is the fact that there are 15 dining options on campus…”

Cal State Chico—“A recipe contest gives students a chance to see their food featured in dining halls, while events like National Eggs Benedict Day and Black History Month Soul Food Night are popular.”

UC Irvine—“The university often hosts popular local food trucks at campus festivals as well as events like Mediterranean Night and the Lunar Festival.”

Honors News is a regular (not always daily) update, in brief, of recent news from honors colleges/programs and from the world of higher ed. Occasionally, a bit of opinion enters the discussion. These brief posts are by John Willingham, unless otherwise noted.