By Susanna Cerasuolo, M.Ed. and Mia Myklebust
There are many aspects to consider when applying to college: school size, location, programs, and campus culture, to name a few. However, one often overlooked, but very important, factor to consider when choosing a college is the food. Now, I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Food, really? I can be happy without five-star dining on my campus.” What you may not have thought of is that what you eat can have a huge effect on your happiness. Mom won’t be there to cook you dinner and even if you can cook (which many high schools grads cannot), most dorms have limited, if any, kitchens. In other words, throughout your hectic college life, you will find yourself eating someone else’s cooking a good amount, so it’s a good idea to know what your options will be ahead of time. This way you won’t find yourself at the fast food drive-through for the fourth time in one week (a major contributor to the freshman 15, trust us).
Knowing what your future college’s food is like is particularly important if you have any dietary restrictions. If you have a food allergy or intolerance, if you have Celiac’s disease or Diabetes, or if you’re a vegan or vegetarian, you should find out ahead of time what you’re going to be dealing with.
Even if your diet isn’t restricted, good food on campus is a great perk that you will quickly learn to appreciate when you think you just can’t eat one more Cup o’ Noodles. Most college freshmen don’t have cars, so it may be important to you that the on-campus dining options are diverse and appealing.
At CollegeMapper we know the value of a good meal, so we decided to share some of the most foodie-friendly colleges with you. These are by no means the only colleges with great food. In fact, many campuses boast delicious dining options. Our best advice is to check out the food scene before making a commitment to a school. Food shouldn’t make or break your decision, but you may want to take it into consideration when applying to college!
Bowdoin offers meals seven days a week at 24 different times, which include breakfast, lunch or brunch, and dinner. There’s also SuperSnack, a light meal period from 10:00 pm to 1:00 am called on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Another special aspect of Bowdoin’s dining program is the staff; they can help accommodate you if you have any special dietary restrictions. The school suggests that you call or email the Dining Director if you have a food-related medical condition. Dining Services will work with you to help with menu selections and to ensure that they have any special products or ingredients if you need them.
Cornell has over 30 dining locations across campus, which includes 10 All You Care to Eat dining rooms for those students with insatiable appetites. The school is extremely proud of the dining program’s six Culinary Institute of America (CIA) graduates and four Certified Executive Chefs (CEC). Cornell is also ranked sixth in peta2’s most vegan-friendly colleges.
At Purdue, there are five different dining halls, which all have their own specialties. Some examples are Wiley’s bacon wrapped meats/pasta station or Earhart’s stir-fry (yum!) Something unique to Purdue’s dining services is a mobile app called NetNutrition, which allows you to group your food choices individually or as an entire meal. Purdue is currently developing a filter in the app to discard menu items containing your allergens.
Seattle Pacific University
The culinary team at SPU has designed their menus with the many tastes and budgets of their students in mind. The school has five dining locations, including a Gwinn Commons Dining Hall, which has exhibition cooking, Pacific Northwest style, and made-to-order meals. Who said cafeteria food can’t be tasty? In addition to the dining hall, SPU’s campus houses national brands such as Starbucks®, Subway®, and Einstein Bros.®. One awesome idea SPU has implemented is the Get Well Meal. These meals supply you with the nutrition to get well quickly when you’re sick.
St. Olaf University
St. Olaf clearly did something right when they hired the award-winning chefs of Bon Appétit as their campus food service. Their goal is to create a restaurant-style experience for their students, with an array of choices from Midwestern favorites to pan-Asian and South American cuisine. They also always offer vegetarian entrees and vegan options. St. Olaf’s has four on-campus dining facilities plus a variety of choices in the nearby town of Northfield. St. Olaf’s is often considered to have the best college food in the country.
Washington University in St. Louis
Washington University is another school that elected Bon Appétit Management Company as its food service provider. Wash U works with the company to provide students with healthy, fresh, and high-quality dining options. One of the standout values at Washington University is the belief that food service serves a much larger purpose for the campus community. The school sees dining rooms and cafés as gathering places where a sense of community is fostered. Washington also has a mobile app called WUSTL Dining, where students can check out dining locations and find up to date dining menus.
Let the eating begin!