Campus dining may boost grades

Study found grade-point averages escalated as students increased visits to campus dining center.

July 9—Eating meals at a college dining hall may be a contributing factor to improved academics and social life, according to a new study by Kansas State University.

Abigail Bauer, who recently earned her master's degree in public health from K-State, analyzed the effects that communal eating at a university dining center had on grades and perceived social support in first-year college students. She discovered that students' grade-point averages escalated as they increased the number of times they ate in a campus dining center and with others. Students also reported having better social support.

"This preliminary finding supports the notion that eating with other people and in campus dining centers is helpful for freshman students," Bauer said. "Eating a meal is an important time for students to relax, talk to people and form relationships. It’s a time for nourishment for their bodies and for their well-being."

Bauer polled more than 300 freshman students who ate in Derby Dining Center, which serves Ford, Haymaker, Moore and West halls at Kansas State University. In online and in-person surveys, 62% of students said that eating in the dining center made them feel more socially connected, while 77% said they were rarely or never lonely when people sat near them in the dining center.

Students who ate at least 11 times a week in the dining center earned an average GPA of 3.4, according to Bauer's study, but those who ate fewer than seven times per week in the dining center earned an average GPA of 3.0.

"I can't really say why, because this was just a snapshot in time," she said, "but this study leaves a lot of room for further research."

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
sriracha bottles

Generally, I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions. They tend to be grandiose and unrealistic—and why not just resolve to start doing/not doing that thing you’re not doing/doing right away instead of going hog wild until Jan. 1? (New Year’s Day also is my birthday, and if you can’t eat at your favorite Thai restaurant and sip bubbly then, well, when can you?)

I do, however, enjoy the raucous singing of “Auld Lang Syne” to ring in the new year, though I’ve never been quite sure whether you’re supposed to be remembering the year fondly or happily putting it out of mind. While I...

Managing Your Business
briggo coffee haus kiosk

Though diners’ appetites for coffee are seemingly bottomless, adding a full-service coffee shop to every corner of a facility probably isn’t in the playbook. Here’s a look at how two operators added coffee service with relatively small footprints—with one decidedly futuristic (robot barista, anyone?), and the other low-tech but nimble.

Specialty coffee vending at Dell

Dell has a full-service Starbucks on its Red Rock, Texas, campus, but the location isn’t always convenient for a quick coffee pickup. “Certain times, you go into the bistro, like 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., there’s quite a long...

Ideas and Innovation
baked bread

Instead of sourcing value-added product to reduce labor, the food and nutrition team at University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison outsources its baked goods to a local shop that hires only formerly incarcerated workers. The bakery was able to hire two new former inmates in order to keep up with the volume needs of the hospital. “We want to be really entrenched in the community, not just have a building that sits in the center of Madison,” says Amy Mihm, clinical nutrition specialist for the hospital.

Managing Your Business
food symbols allergens

Bellevue School District in King County, Wash., has reduced the instances of life-threatening allergic reactions by 94% since 2013. Wendy Weyer, business manager for nutrition services, says that success stems from direct communication with the district’s 20,000 students.

Q: What was the first thing you did to start reducing allergic reactions?

A: More than five years ago, we changed our menu signage to provide information to students on what the common allergens were on all the foods that were served at every station. We use symbols such as an egg or a wheat stalk for younger...

FSD Resources