For some prospective students, the dining experience can be a deal breaker when selecting an alma mater. Don’t worry; we’ve got your back! From on-campus farmers’ markets to nutrition counseling, diet-friendly options, locally-sourced produce and antibiotic-free meats, these schools have raised the bar for college dining everywhere.
Versatility: New and versatile options enhance the dining experience, keeping students from becoming bored of the same old meals mid-semester. Many of the colleges on this list offer themed events with unique or abnormal food options, such as Cajun-style meals, bread bowls, and build-your-own ice cream sundaes. Some schools even invite parents to submit recipes for consideration in the dining hall’s rotating menu.
Nutrition and Wellness: Nutrition is crucial to a student’s overall health and academic performance. This list includes schools that provide online nutrition calculators, wellness programs, and plenty of access to healthy meals. Some even create each meal from scratch, often using produce and herbs from local vendors or on-campus farms and gardens!
Sustainability: The environmental impact of college dining facilities can be tremendous. Many of these schools have developed innovative ways to improve sustainability. Minimizing waste, reducing the use of toxic cleaning products and recycling can help to preserve our resources and save our planet.
Accessibility: Special consideration was given to colleges that make an effort to accommodate for special dietary needs.
50. Florida State University
More than 20 dining facilities are available on campus at Florida State University. The Fresh Food Company and Suwannee Room both have online menus, allowing students to calculate their intake for each meal. Students eating on-the-go can also visit one of many fast-food chains, like Subway, Pollo Tropical, Papa Johns or Chick-fil-A. Salad Creations is a healthier alternative, where students can create their own salads and take them to-go.
The university recycles its used fryer oil, promotes trayless dining and supplies reusable to-go containers to reduce waste.
- You can learn more about Florida State University dining options here
49. Columbia University
Columbia hosts events throughout the semester, like the Wild, Wild West event with Western-themed entrees and the National Pancake Day event with pancakes and delicious toppings. More than 50% of the food served at Columbia is purchased locally. Transparency is essential here; students wanting to learn more about the sources of their meals can view much of this information on the website.
Dining is trayless, eco-containers are used for to-go meals, napkins are made of 100% recycled material, and excess equipment is donated to those in need.
- You can learn more about the Columbia University dining options here
48. Oregon State University
From online menus with nutrition tracking capabilities to entrees that can be compatible with halal, gluten-free, vegan or vegetarian diets, it is evident that Oregon State University has taken a step in the right direction to ensure students’ health and meet their dietary needs. The University also facilitates a Better Bites program, designed to indicate meals that meet certain criteria regarding calories, saturated fat, sodium, fiber and protein content. The university encourages the consumption of water as the #1 beverage choice, both for the environment and for students’ health. Meats served in the dining halls are locally raised. Leftover food that is still edible is donated, and leftover scraps are composted. Finally, students who wish to take a meal to-go receive a reusable container that can be washed and used at a later date.
Meats served in the dining halls are locally raised. Leftover food that is still edible is donated, and leftover scraps are composted. Finally, students who wish to take a meal to-go receive a reusable container that can be washed and used at a later date.
- You can learn more about Oregon State University dining options here
47. University of California: Berkeley
The UC Berkeley dining service hosts an event for nearly every holiday, as well as some non-holiday celebrations, such as a pajama party and Hawaiian Luau. The menu at UC Berkeley’s Brown dining hall includes foods sourced almost entirely locally. With the motto “less meat, better meat,” this dining hall encourages students to focus on vegetarian choices and view meat as a side dish.
The cafeteria offers fresh, seasonal vegetables and fruits, as well as tofu burgers and sandwiches. A hydration station with pure and sparkling water is used to minimize disposable water bottle usage.
- You can learn more about UC Berkley dining optionshere
46. University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame hosts events like the Mardi Gras Fat Tuesday Feast, with Cajun-style food and Mardi Gras desserts. During a typical dining period, students have access to a variety of selections, including pizza, pasta, Asian-inspired cuisine and grilled meats and veggie burgers. More than a quarter of the produce served at Notre Dame’s dining facilities is locally sourced. The university works to conserve energy by using energy efficient appliances. Food scraps are used as animal feed at a local farm. Students with busy schedules have plenty of options for grabbing a quick bite.
The food court features well-known chains, such as Burger King, Subway, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. For healthier choices, the Café Commons offers pre-packed sandwiches and salads and Au Bon Pain also have grab-and-go meals.
- You can learn more about the University of Notre Dame dining optionshere
45. University of Montana
The University of Montana hosts a farmers’ market year-round, granting students access to fresh, local produce each week during the academic year. An online menu is available for the Food Zoo Dining hall, complete with nutrition information and allergen and dietary icons. The dining hall serves ethnically-inspired and diet-friendly meals, such as Vietnamese pork meatballs, Ratatouille, gluten free waffles and vegetarian chili.
Many of the selections are also halal-friendly. Themed events are held each semester, such as the Star Wars omelet bar event.
- You can learn more about the University of Montana dining options here
44. Ball State University
Ball State University is home to 14 different dining locations. From personalized salads to Asian cuisine, pizzas and deli sandwiches, the dining service provides a variety of meals for students choose from each day, each of which is prepared by culinary-trained chefs. On-campus, students will also find popular fast-food eateries, such as Quiznos, Papa John’s and Jamba Juice. Special meals are provided for holidays and cultural celebrations.
Each year, the University hosts the Amazing Taste festival featuring global cuisines, music and more. Busy students can visit the on-campus grocery stores for a quick bite or grab a grab-and-go meal from one of the several participating locations.
- You can learn more about Ball State University dining optionshere
43. Rice University
The majority of the food served at Rice University’s dining facilities is made from scratch. Vegan and vegetarian meals are available during every dining period. Trayless dining minimizes food waste and preserves the water that would be used to clean the extra dishes. All meals are completely trans-fat free. Wellness classes and nutrition counseling are available to students wanting to learn more about maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
The university also hosts a farmers’ market to promote local eating and make fresh produce readily available for students.
- You can learn more about Rice University dining optionshere
42. University of Delaware
The University of Delaware website features educational articles on topics such as fad-free nutrition tips, seasonal health advice, tips for boosting energy and information on healthy fats. The Pencader dining hall serves everything from chicken parmesan pizza to fresh collard greens and Thai seafood salad wraps. Options at the Russell dining hall are similarly versatile. For students looking for a quick bite, the University of Delaware also houses popular eateries such as Einstein Bros. Bagels, Quiznos, and Chick-fil-A. Produce included in dining hall meals is purchased locally when possible. The university also recycles and reuses materials for sustainability and uses environmentally friendly cleaning products.
Produce included in dining hall meals is purchased locally when possible. The university also recycles and reuses materials for sustainability and uses environmentally friendly cleaning products.
- You can learn more about the University of Delaware dining options here
41. University of Chicago
At the University of Chicago, 35-40% of the dining center’s purchases are local or from minority- or women-owned businesses. All eggs used here are cage-free, and most of the cafés on campus serve fair trade coffee. Fryer waste is converted to biofuel, and many of the materials used for dining are recyclable or compostable. Students visiting the Arley D. Cathey or Bartlett dining halls have access to extensive salad bars, as well as gluten free, kosher and halal options.
The Bartlett dining facility is used for a number of themed events each year, such as the Life’s a Beach meal, offering unique dishes, including cod fish tacos, tofu and vegetable kabobs, pineapple rice and Hawaiian pizza.
- You can learn more about University of Chicago dining optionshere
40. University of Richmond
The University of Richmond offers a mobile-friendly nutrition app for students to track the meals they consume. Each dining location features “feeding fitness” options based on the American Dietetic Association’s health recommendations, including foods containing fewer than 30 percent of calories from fat. Much of the produce here is purchased locally. The dining service composts leftover food and uses eco-friendly products for dishwashing.
The university also hosts Live Well, Dine Green events throughout the year with fresh seafood and produce from local vendors.
- You can learn more about the University of Richmond dining options here
39. Creighton University
At Creighton, there are plenty of meal options to choose from, including made-from-scratch pizza, salad bars, cook-to-order vegetarian meals and omelets and a sandwich and wrap station. The University features a new “mindful option” each week and also serves protein powder at its Brandeis Center. Grab-and-go options are available to meet the needs of busy students and, throughout the academic year, the university offers themed dinners with build-your-own sundae bars, bread bowls and more. Creighton purchases all dairy products from a local farm and its produce is sourced from local communities.
A trayless campus, Creighton has implemented several strategies for sustainability, including the use of bulk condiment dispensers and napkin dispensers, as well as recycled, eco-friendly packaging materials and eating utensils. The university dining service uses Ecolab’s green products for cleaning to minimize the use of harsh chemicals.
- You can learn more about Creighton University dining options here
38. Villanova University
Villanova Dining serves its students food free of MSG and partially hydrogenated oils; this includes all of the campus’ convenience stores. Organic produce is offered at the Belle Air Terrace salad bar, one of the many ways that Villanova is working to reduce the consumption of animal protein. Eggs served on campus are cage-free. Used oil is recycled for use in biodiesel and paint.
As an alternative to bottled water, the university provides filtered water dispensers throughout campus. Students may view the online menu to track the nutritional content of each meal.
- You can learn more about Villanova University dining options here
37. Purdue University
Health-conscious students can visit Purdue Dining’s website for a NetNutrition calculator. The selections have allergy icons to indicate when common allergens are used at each meal. Students can also add the contents of an entire meal to track the total of what they have consumed. Vegetables, herbs, and flowers are grown at the student-run, educational farm. The farm’s produce is sold on campus at the farmers’ market and university dining halls, as well as locally at the community farmers’ market and local grocery stores.
The university also hosts a farm share program, where students may purchase a membership and order seasonal produce from the campus farm online. Purdue donates unused food to charities throughout the community.
- You can learn more about Purdue University dining options here
36. University of Houston
The University of Houston has a convenient online menu for the Cougar Woods Dining Hall and Fresh Food Company. Both menus include complete nutrition information and icons to identify vegan and vegetarian meals, as well as those that are low in fat, sodium or contain less than 100 calories. The food at the University of Houston is purchased locally when possible. Reusable to-go containers are available for a $5 refundable deposit, and the university uses eco-friendly cleaning products to reduce the use of chemicals.
Schedules and menus are available online for students wanting to visit one of their favorite food trucks during the academic year.
- You can learn more about the University of Houston dining options here
35. Wesleyan University
The staff members at Wesleyan University prepare meals to meet above-and-beyond expectations, focusing on the use of quality ingredients in ideally-sized portions. The university’s website features a chart of commonly-served meals, complete with nutrition information and alterable portion sizes. Meals are made from scratch, using seasonal, local produce. Emphasis is placed on plant-based nutrients and proteins to minimize the environmental impact of beef and cheese production.
The dining area is completely trayless, reducing discarded waste and saving a substantial amount of water for cleaning each year. Leftover food is donated to local food banks, and that which isn’t donated is sent to local farms for composting or animal feed.
- You can learn more about Wesleyan University dining optionshere
34. Pitzer College
Using ingredients like yellow peas, instead of eggs, Pitzer College, through Hampton Creek and Bon Appetit, provides delicious meals with sustainable ingredients. The McConnell Bistro offers an online menu daily, with tags to indicate vegetarian and gluten-free options, as well as in-balance meals with an ideal balance of whole grains, fresh produce, and lean protein. The college buys locally when possible and regularly donates leftover meals to the local hunger relief organizations.
Pitzer is a member of the Equitable Food Initiative, advocating for farmworkers’ rights and assisting with the development of standards that protect them from unfair working conditions.
- You can learn more about Pitzer College dining options here
33. Stanford University
Named the Most Vegan-Friendly College in 2015 by PETA, Stanford is a haven for vegans and vegetarians. The labeling of food items is transparent, making it easy for those with strict diets and/or allergies to know what they are consuming. The menus feature made-from-scratch vegetarian soups, soy-based dairy alternatives and 100% animal fat-free meals in every dining location. In response to the severity of peanut allergies, Stanford declared its Ricker dining hall a peanut-sensitive environment.
This peanut-sensitive, campus-based dining facility is the first of its kind, which is a progressive move in the direction of allergy-sensitive college dining
- You can learn more about Standford University dining options here
32. University of South Carolina
At the University of South Carolina seasonal farmers’ markets bring local produce to campus. The university makes an effort to serve produce and dairy from nearby vendors in its dining facilities as well. Icons on the online menu identify foods made with organic produce. Parents can also participate in their students’ health from afar by purchasing a healthy snack pack, complete with yogurt, hummus, fresh fruit, trail mix and water.
In addition to recycling, the University of South Carolina provides bulk condiments to reduce waste and offers a discount on drinks to students who bring reusable cups.
- You can learn more about the University of South Carolina dining options here
31. North Carolina State University
North Carolina State University is committed to waste reduction. For a small, one-time fee, students can purchase a reusable eco-friendly to-go container, which can be traded for a clean container at each visit. Alternatively, students may return the container in exchange for a token to redeem at the next to-go purchase. The university also participates in recycling, composting, recycling cooking oil, trayless dining, and other waste reduction practices. The dining service hosts special events each year, such as the Thanksgiving Feast, Farm Feast, and All-Carolinas meals.
The Clark and Case dining halls each have an online menu, complete with nutrition and common allergen information. To encourage students to stay home when ill, thus preventing the spread of illness, get-well meal kits are readily available and stocked with non-perishable food items and drinks.
- You can learn more about North Carolina State University dining options here
30. Yale University
Yale Dining serves cage-free, vegetarian-fed eggs, and hormone- and antibiotic-free, vegetarian-fed ground beef and chicken. Even the yogurt here is hormone-free. Vegan and vegetarian entrees are available for every meal. Yale’s website features an online menu where students can filter dietary restrictions before choosing where to dine. This feature comes complete with nutrition information and lists common allergens beside each applicable meal. Students with busy schedules may also place to-go orders online and have a meal packed for them.
The university hosts a seasonal Uncommon Market, featuring items like green squash, collard greens, baby bok choy and rainbow chard. The event is BYOB (bring your own bag), or students may purchase reusable bags for $2.
- You can learn more about on Yale University dining options here
29. Northwestern University
Northwestern University recently invited students to participate in the university’s Farm to Fork event. At this event, students travel to a local farm that supplies some of the produce used in dining hall meals. Students can take tractor rides, meet the farmer and eat a meal comprised of foods grown on the farm. In addition to purchasing locally, the university works to compost food waste and purchases sustainably harvested fish.
For students with dietary restrictions, a kosher station is available at Allison dining hall, and vegetarian and vegan options are available at every dining location. Halal meals are also supplied upon request during lunch and dinner at all dining halls.
- You can learn more on Northwestern University dining optionshere
28. Harvard University
Every March, Harvard hosts a “Recipes from Home” month, during which time parents can submit their students’ favorite recipes for consideration on the dining menu. Each dining hall has kosher options and, for other dietary restrictions, the online menu is useful for filtering out foods prepared with undesired ingredients. A student-run community garden sits at the center of Harvard Square and contributes produce and herbs to Harvard dining, as well as a local food kitchen.
All of the undergraduate dining halls are Certified Green Restaurants. The campus is involved in waste diversion practices and offers reusable dishware and a reusable mug and water bottle program.
- You can learn more about Harvard University dining options here
27. Salisbury University
At Salisbury University, many of the fresh herbs used in meals are hand-picked from the rooftop herb garden. The university operates a buffet-style Commons facility, serving nutritious meals daily. For on-the-go options, the Cool Beans café is a perfect choice, with menu items such as fruit smoothies and grab-and-go sandwiches and salads.
As the first higher education institution to receive the WMDT/Mountaire Environmental Star Award, Salisbury University has implemented some sustainability initiatives, including the use of low energy-consuming fluorescent bulbs, the elimination of Styrofoam containers, conversion of used cooking oil to biofuel and composting
- You can learn more about Salisbury University dining options here
26. Johns Hopkins University
The dining facilities at Johns Hopkins use cage-free eggs, hormone-free milk, and locally-grown, seasonal produce. Paper products used here are biodegradable, and students with dietary restrictions can enjoy vegetarian, vegan and kosher meals. Parents are invited to participate in the Better Than Mail program, which allows them to choose freshly-made care package treats for students.
Parents can also submit a recipe to the Fresh Food Café’s rotating menu so that students can enjoy a meal that reminds them of home.
- You can learn more about Johns Hopkins University dining options here
25. College of the Atlantic
Every single meal at College of the Atlantic is prepared from scratch, often with local and organic ingredients. Meat and seafood served here is humanely raised and sustainably sourced. At the Blair Dining Hall, students are served three meals Monday-Friday, each of which includes a vegetarian and vegan option. During weekends and evenings, the Sea Urchin Café offers a 24-hour vending machine with fresh sandwiches, fruit, yogurt, and soup.
Discarded food scraps are composted either on-site at the community garden, or at a local farm. Much of the produce served in the kitchen is grown at the university-owned, 73-acre Beech Hill Farm.
- You can learn more about the College of the Atlantic dining optionshere
24. Duke University
To help students make healthy choices, Duke University provides a wealth of information on its website, including informational videos and dietary advice for the university’s “Balance Your Plate” educational campaign. Dietitians are also on staff to answer any questions that a student may have about healthy eating. Duke is also committed to sustainability. In addition to recycling and composting waste, Duke has completely banned bleached napkins and Styrofoam from all dining locations.
Some of the produce served in the dining facilities are grown on the one-acre Duke Campus Farm and, to reduce the environmental impact of meat consumption, Duke hosts Meatless Mondays with plenty of meat-free choices.
- You can learn more about Duke University dining options here
23. Brown University
From the salad and vegan bars at Verney-Wooley (V-Dub) to the Ivy Room’s exclusively vegetarian evening menu, there are plenty of options to choose from for vegans and vegetarians alike. Those with kosher and halal diets can purchase diet-specific meal plans. Menu ingredients are listed on the website and students can use the online meal planner to view calories, sodium, fat, fiber and vitamins, among other things. Brown Dining actively purchases from local farms and hosts a farmers’ market on campus. The to-go program uses compostable containers, and cups and Brown offers discounted beverage prices to students who bring reusable mugs.
Brown Dining actively purchases from local farms and hosts a farmers’ market on campus. The to-go program uses compostable containers, and cups and Brown offers discounted beverage prices to students who bring reusable mugs.
- You can learn more about Brown University dining options here
22. Mills College
The daily menus at the Founders Commons Dining Facility feature vegetarian meals and organic produce. The vibe here is relaxed, with beautiful views of the scenic California woodlands. To minimize the amount of waste going to the landfill, diners dispose of their waste using bins that separate recyclable and compostable items.
Nearby, the University also has a botanical garden and has implemented several other sustainability practices, such as the use of solar panels.
- You can learn more about Millls College dining optionshere
21. Vanderbilt University
Vanderbilt students are invited to attend themed dining events year-round, such as Comfort Food Night and Prime Rib Night. The university website features a nutrition calculator; students can view this information on computers or download the mobile app to keep track of their nutrition intake. The Commons dining facility was constructed using environmentally friendly methods and materials, making it the first gold-certified building in Nashville.
- You can learn more about Vanderbilt University dining optionshere
20. Evergreen State College
Much of the produce served at this institution is grown on the on-campus organic farm or produced locally. The hormone-free dairy offered here is also purchased from a nearby vendor. Unwanted food scraps are composted, and reusable dishware is utilized to reduce waste. To-go containers are compostable and reusable. Evergreen College offers a POD Market with fresh grocery items, a farm stand with local and organic produce, a student-run café and a cafeteria with meals that cater to gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan diets.
The herbs used for cooking are often freshly picked from Evergreen’s community garden.
- You can learn more about Evergreen State College dining optionshere
19. College of William & Mary
The William & Mary campus features two all-you-can-eat facilities, five coffee shops, four convenience stores, as well as a bake shop and food court. The dining service website is equipped with a nutrition calculator, which students can use before or after a meal to track the percentages of calories, sodium, etc., contained in their meals. The university participates in composting, recycling and trayless dining. Dairy and produce are purchased locally and a portion of the produce and spices used in cooking are grown in the campus garden and herb gardens.
William & Mary also tracks uneaten food to raise awareness of wasteful dining and its impact on the environment.
- You can learn more about the College of William & Mary dining optionshere
18. Wheaton College
Themed events like the New Orleans-style lunch and Chines New Year dinner add excitement to the college dining experience. Transparency is abundant at the Chase dining hall; meals are prepared in front of students, and the menu is available on the website, complete with nutrition information. The university is home to some other dining facilities, like the Emerson retail location with tossed-to-order salads, fresh sandwiches, and baked goods.
Wheaton College purchases its produce from local farms, which are all listed on the website, and has recycling stations in every dining facility. 100% of fryer oil is recycled and, to save water and reduce cleaning chemical usage, trays are not used in the dining areas.
- You can learn more Wheaton College dining optionshere
17. James Madison University
James Madison University students have access to 28 dining facilities, including all-you-can-eat dining halls, food courts and a smoothie bar. Students can view online menus for the three dining halls to see which diet-specific options will be available that day. The website also features a nutritional calculator and educational brochures on healthy eating, featuring wellness tips, nutrition information, and handy recipes.
The university has implemented a number of sustainability initiatives, including trayless dining, composting, donating unused food, recycling 100% of fryer oil and purchasing produce locally.
- You can learn more about James Madison Unviersity dining options here
16. Bates College
Bates College is dedicated to the diversion of solid waste, with numerous methods for minimizing the school’s footprint. The college composts unwanted food waste and donates extra food to local homeless shelters. Milk products are produced hormone-free, and produce and meat are purchased locally. Bates Dining also has an incentivized reusable mug program.
Students earn points for every use of a reusable beverage container, eventually earning free guest passes to the dining facility.
- You can learn more about Bates College dining optionshere
15. Oberlin College
Oberlin College is committed to the health of its students, with an abundance of healthy menu items and transparent nutrition information. The online menu features icons that identify foods with certain criteria, such as gluten-free, vegan, organic or heart-healthy options. There are plenty of vegan and vegetarian meals available for each dining period; think soy yogurt, vegan pizza, and hummus! Parents who wish to send their students “Thinking of You” gifts can save a trip to the store by purchasing a boxed gift packed with healthy snacks, cards and games.
All food and paper waste is composted here, and much of the food is sourced locally. Online, Oberlin College has posted a list of local farms, along with the food items that each vendor provides.
- You can learn more about Oberlin College dining optionshere
14. University of Washington
A percentage of the produce served at the University of Washington is grown on-campus at the UW farm. Eggs are cage-free, and all dairy is purchased locally. Even the local pizza chain’s campus-based location serves pizza with seasonal, local produce. Those who desire to view the nutrition content of their meals may find this information on the website.
To reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills, the University of Washington composts all food scraps and utilizes compostable take-out packaging. Students are also encouraged to bring reusable mugs for a discount on each drink purchase.
- You can learn more about the University of Washington’s dining options here
13. Middlebury College
Middlebury College adds flexibility to the traditional swipe-based meal service. During a dining period, students may enjoy a meal at any all-you-can-eat location and, without worrying about wasting a “swipe,” can return to the same building or gain entry into another facility. Sustainability is also important at Middlebury College; the University composts roughly 99% of food waste and outdoor meals are served with compostable plates, napkins, paper cups and biodegradable eating utensils.
- You can learn more about Middlebury College dining options here
12. Virginia Tech University
Rated number 3 on Princeton Review’s “Best Campus Food” list for 2016, Virginia Tech makes it convenient to eat healthily. Each day, students can check the online menu for each dining facility to view the selections offered and track nutrition information. Results can be filtered to remove foods containing selected allergens. Virginia Tech Dining Services also has a commitment to sustainability, using trayless dining, food diversion, composting and recycling methods to minimize waste.
Many of the fruits and vegetables served at Virginia Tech are produced at the university’s 6-acre farm or purchased locally. To switch things up, the university hosts themed meals, such a Chili Challenge, and Thanksgiving Feast.
- You can learn more about Virginia Tech University dining options here
11. Warren Wilson College
The seasonal menus at Warren Wilson College feature fresh ingredients that are often locally grown. Nutrition labels help students with dietary restrictions quickly identify foods that they can eat. The Cowpie Café serves GMO-free ingredients and is entirely vegetarian; the café’s menu is also mostly vegan and gluten-free.
The Owl Nest café offers artesian bagels and locally roasted organic coffee, and is nearly a zero-waste facility, composting all waste and recycling 100% of recyclable materials.
- You can learn more about Warren Wilson College dining options here
10. Washington University
Washington University was recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2014 for converting used fryer oil into biofuel, which fuels campus delivery trucks. The university also provides reusable dishes and compostable or recyclable containers for on-the-go meals, drastically reducing the amount of waste typically generated by student dining. Meat and produce are purchased from local vendors and meals are available for allergen-free, Kosher, halal and vegetarian diets.
The university offers plenty of on-campus cafes, dining halls and quick stops, such as the Paws & Go market with fresh produce and grab-and-go meals.
- You can learn more about the University of Washington dining options here
9. Boston University
Boston University hosts a farmers’ market each fall; students are also invited to participate in the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program, purchasing a share of seasonal produce from a local farm during the growing season. Boston University switches things up each semester with its visiting chef series night, during which time visiting restaurants or celebrity chefs contribute a new menu to the dining facilities. The university offers nutrition counseling, covering issues such as weight management, Iron-deficiency, healthy meal planning and nutrition for exercise. Its four dining halls all offer kosher dining; a halal meal program is also available. Students can eat late at the Late Night Kitchen, open until 11 pm Monday-Wednesday and until 1 am Thursday-Saturday, during the academic year.
To encourage students to stay home when ill, the dining service offers a flu meal program; students can purchase a package online, which is then delivered to the buyer by student volunteers. The pork, beef, turkey and rotisserie chicken served here is humanely raised and most is sourced locally.
- You can learn more about Boston University’s dining options here
8. New York University
Trayless dining, fryer oil recycling, and hydration stations are just a few of the ways that New York University shows its commitment to sustainability. Each semester, University employees attend training on energy and water conservation to reduce overuse of these resources. The university has a 100% kosher dining hall, open Sunday-Friday, and plenty of vegetarian options are available in most dining facilities.
The website has a nutrition calculator and full online menus for six of the dining locations. Additionally, students can check out the website for expert advice on healthy eating.
- You can learn more about NYU’s dining options here
7. UCLA – The University of California: Los Angeles
UCLA is home to one of the first health-themed dining halls in the United States. The Bruin Plate Residential Restaurant serves local, unprocessed, organic and nutritious meals to students. For those looking for heartier meals, Covel Commons offers a pasta station, wood-fired pizza oven and grilled hotdogs, burgers and chicken. An online menu containing nutrition information is available for all dining facilities. Much progress has already been made toward sustainability; most to-go packaging is compostable or recyclable, food scraps are similarly composted, beef-less Thursdays significantly reduce the environmental impact of food consumption, and cooking oil is recycled into biodiesel.
By 2020, the goal is for the entire campus to send zero waste to landfills.
- You can learn more about UCLA’s dining options here
6. University of Pennsylvania
With all-you-can-eat dining facilities, grab-and-go meals, an on-campus grocery store and an entirely kosher café, it seem that the University of Pennsylvania has thought of everything. Students have access to free nutrition counseling for information on healthy eating and to address problems ranging from eating disorders to allergies. The university has taken many initiatives toward sustainability, including purchasing humanely raised, antibiotic-free ground beef and rBGH-free dairy.
The chefs at the University of Pennsylvania prepare all meals from scratch using local, seasonal ingredients. Food scraps are composted, and fryer oil is recycled as biofuel, which is used to run some of the catering vans on campus.
- You can learn more about the University of Pennsylvania dining options here
5. Emory University
Emory University makes eating healthy easy with the implementation of its “well-being” food rating. In the dining hall, each food selection is matched with an arrow; the fuller the arrow, the more nutritious the option is. The dining hall features vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and kosher options for those with dietary restrictions. Students and visitors can check the website for a rotating food truck schedule to see where their favorite trucks will be each day.
A farmer’s market is held on Tuesdays throughout the academic year, with vendors selling bread, organic produce, tamales, gluten-free baked goods and artisan salsas. Much of the food served here is sustainably or locally grown and, in addition to recycling, the university composts unused food scraps.
- You can learn more about Emory University dining here
4. Georgetown University
Georgetown University’s dining hall is an all-you-can-eat establishment with vegan and vegetarian options, a salad bar and make-your-own stations for pasta dishes, pizza, sandwiches, burritos and more! And Georgetown University Dining purchases locally-sourced food sends 25 tons of waste to be composted each month and recycles 100% of used fryer oil. Georgetown also practices trayless dining, saving millions of cups of water annually.
During finals, the dining hall offers themed midnight breakfasts where students are served a late-night meal by university staff members. Some alternative options are available for students and visitors, including Grab n’ Go stations and an on-campus grocery store run by the CORP, an entirely student-run organization.
- You can learn more about Georgetown University dining here
3. Cornell University
Cornell houses ten all-you-can-eat dining rooms with plenty of menu options, including create-your-own pancake and omelet bars, ethnic and regional food, kosher stations and salad bars. Each fall, in observance of Day of Dead, the Risley Dining Hall hosts “Night at Hogwarts,” a Harry Potter-themed dinner. Other halls host similar celebrations, such as the Fall Harvest Dinner, Diwali Festival and a Mardi Gras celebration with Cajun-style meals and live music.
22% of the food served at Cornell is locally and regionally-grown and produced. Cornell’s dairy processing plant is a major source of the dairy products served in the dining facilities. Sustainability is also important at Cornell; the university offers discounted coffee when students use reusable mugs and facilitates a trayless dining practice to save water and reduce waste.
- You can learn more about Cornell University dining here
2. Bowdoin College
Ranked number 4 by Princeton Review for best campus dining, Bowdoin College also raises the bar for college food. This includes Bowdoin’s commitment to sustainability. The school’s eco-container program allows students to save money by re-using to-go containers, and students also save 5% on drink purchases for bringing their coffee cups to the café. A percentage of the produce served here is grown on campus in the organic garden.
Bowdoin also strives to make dining fun! The college hosts an annual Lobster Bake for students, as well as various other events throughout each academic year.
- You can learn more about Bowdoin College dininghere
1. Kent State University
For those on a vegetarian or vegan diet, or for those simply looking to eat less meat, Kent State University has you covered! The University offers a call-ahead vegan and vegetarian meal program, called Veggie-A-Go-Go, which makes it convenient to eat meat-free. The Prentice Café offers a similar program for those on a gluten-free diet and the Eastway Market & Deli also offers gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan to-go meals. Kent State takes goody boxes to a new level, with packages for every occasion.
Parents and friends can send baskets containing soups, teas, and tissues to students who have fallen ill. Other options, like the fruit basket and the healthy snack basket, are packed with nutritious treats for health-conscious students. Kent State’s carry-out containers are 100% biodegradable, and much of its produce is purchased locally.
- You can learn more about Kent State dining here
Meet the ExpertKatie Young
Katie is a freelance writer based out of Kansas City. She is an avid traveler and loves discovering new places to explore. Katie believes that the experience is the most important aspect of travel. She enjoys running around new cities, exploring nature and meeting new people. She has written for a number of companies, including Elite Daily, and College Rank and Theology Degrees on a number of topics including food and travel.