The 10 U.S. college dining programs with the best food


The Princeton Review recently released its 2019 college dining rankings, based on reviews from 138,000 students at schools from across the country. The top 10 dining programs have become known for the exceptional dining experience they provide for their students. Here is a look at the programs that made the top 10. 

Photographs: Shutterstock

10. Bryn Mawr College; Bryn Mawr, Pa.

bryn Mawr

The dining program at Bryn Mawr College has been in Princeton Review’s top 10 ranking for the past 11 years. Known for its vegan options, the dining team also hosts unique events throughout the year. Last spring, for example, the team held a French peasant-themed lunch as well as a chili fest where students got to sample different types of chili, such as Caribbean chili and Mediterranean chickpea chili. 

9. Bates College; Lewiston, Maine

bates farm

At Commons, Bates’ main campus eatery, kitchen staff have recently begun sourcing produce from its school-run farm located a block from campus. The school takes part in other sustainability initiatives such as pre- and post-consumer food waste programs and a community outreach program that donates extra food to local homeless shelters and kitchens. 

8. Saint Anselm College; Manchester, N.H.

Saint Anselm

Eggplant and quinoa stuffed peppers, Bombay beef curry with basmati rice and clam chowder were some of the menu items available for Saint Anselm College students last spring. At Davison Hall, the school’s main dining facility, students can enjoy a variety of entrees as well as sweets from the in-house bakery.

Photograph by FJ Gaylor

7. St. Olaf College; Northfield, Minn.

St Olaf

The main dining hall at St. Olaf College serves more than 70 different entrees each week using locally sourced ingredients, with some coming from the school’s own student farm. Students can also visit The Kings’ Room, St. Olaf’s full-service restaurant on campus, if they’re looking for a traditional sit-down meal. 

6. Washington University in St. Louis; St. Louis

Washington university

Students at Washington University in St. Louis are able to enjoy allergen-free and plant-based dishes as well as kosher and halal options. The school offers 29 eateries for students to grab a meal, including its Whispers Cafe, which was renovated last fall. 

5. James Madison University; Harrisonburg, Va.

James Madison

The dining team at James Madison University hosts a couple of dining traditions that are beloved by students, including brunch at E-Hall as well as chicken nugget Thursday. It opened its new $80 million D-Hall dining facility this summer. 

4. Cornell University; Ithaca, N.Y.


Cornell has nine all-you-care-to-eat dining rooms, a variety of cafes and a dairy bar. The dining program was recently named as having the best overall food allergy program among universities by AllerTrain. 

3. Virginia Tech; Blacksburg, Va.

virginia tech

Virginia Tech continues to partner with local farmers and businesses to bring local ingredients to campus. This summer, the university partnered with a local creamery to create a vanilla bean soft serve to be used exclusively at one of its campus burger concepts. The dining program is also expanding its reusable to-go program this fall to include Tapingo mobile orders.

2. Bowdoin College; Brunswick, Maine


Bowdoin’s dining program is rooted in sustainability. The school has implemented several initiatives to further its sustainability goals, including expanding the use of biodegradable takeout containers, advocating for reduced and bulk packaging with its vendors and employing accurate menu forecasting to prevent overproducing. The dining team also says it is working to expand the number of plant-based menu options it serves. 

1. University of Massachusetts; Amherst, Mass.


Taking the No. 1 spot for the third year in a row, the University of Massachusetts Amherst continues to provide high-end dining for its students. This year, the dining team is beginning construction in its Worcester Dining Commons as well as rolling out new menu items at its Baby Berk food truck and other dining facilities.

“We are humbled and extremely grateful to be recognized as the Best Campus Food in the nation, three years in a row,” Ken Toong, executive director of Auxiliary Enterprises, said in a statement. “It speaks highly of our program and the passion of our staff in serving healthy, sustainable and delicious food, one meal at the time. We’re serving more than just food, we strive to create memorable dining experiences and to enrich the quality of campus life.”

More From FoodService Director

Sponsored Content
healthcare foodservice coffee

From Smucker Away From Home.

Foodservice operators face a tall order when it comes to managing coffee service efficiently and profitably, not to mention meeting the standards of high quality and variety that consumers demand these days. According to Technomic’s 2018 Beverage report, consumers purchase an average of 3.8 beverages per week away from home; in terms of coffee, 37% of consumers say they are ordering it more now than they were two years ago.

That means there’s a lot of opportunity for foodservice establishments to attract consumers’ coffee dollars. In the...

Managing Your Business
kitchen staff

If noncommercial operators hope to pull job candidates away from restaurant jobs, here’s what they’ll need to offer, according to a flurry of new research.

The data underscore that pay, once third or fourth on most lists of the reasons foodservice employees leave a position, is becoming a far more important consideration for taking or keeping a job. Financial security is particularly important for members of so-called Gen Z, or what’s being defined as young people age 21 and under, according to the study just released by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (...

Ideas and Innovation

Not all the rivalry during a weekend of college football is limited to action on the field. Restaurants are intensifying their competition with college and university foodservices for the game day spreads that fans will set up in stadium parking lots and countless living rooms this season.

Operators ranging from Taco Bell to small independents are adding platters and meal packages this fall to capture more of the big-dollar spending by sports fanatics for tailgate parties and “couch gating,” the at-home version. They’re awakening to the opportunity many C&U foodservice...

Sponsored Content
local produce

From The Henry P. Kendall Foundation.

The Henry P. Kendall Foundation has spent more than 60 years investing in people and projects designed to make the world healthier and more sustainable. For the past six of those years, the Foundation has focused on the health and vitality of the food system within its native New England, with an eye toward increasing the amount of locally sourced food that is consumed in the region.

To do that, the Kendall Foundation looked to large-scale institutions, such as colleges and universities.

“By leveraging the buying power of the...

FSD Resources

Code for Asynchronous jQuery Munchkin Tracking Code