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

Industry News & Opinion

When looking for a way to get more use out of its Canyon Cafe, open during the weekends only, California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Calif., tried something new: free cooking classes.

Classes are open to students, as well as faculty and staff, and are taught by Campus Dining Executive Chef Michael Albright, according to Mustang News .

The weekday classes, which are capped at 14 participants, have taught attendees how to make items such as probiotic overnight oats and “the perfect turkey.” Interested parties can sign up online via the school’s dining...

Managing Your Business
chef online sourcing

More than 40% of restaurants buy supplies from online sources such as Amazon at least once per month, reducing their reliance on distributors, according to new research from Technomic.

The bulk of the online shopping—what Technomic calls third-party e-sourcing, or 3ES—is for nonperishable foods and other supplies that can’t spoil, such as disposables. "Today, operators are most inclined to purchase products in the nonfoods and shelf space but are reluctant to source frozen and perishables from 3ES,” said Joe Pawlak, managing principal of Technomic. “However, they can envision a...

Industry News & Opinion

Anchorage School District in Anchorage, Alaska, is offering free meals to students this week while schools are closed due to the recent earthquake, KTVA reports.

The meals are being served at nine schools throughout the district between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and are available to anyone 18 and under. The district has provided school buses at each location to allow students to eat inside.

Read the full story via .

Industry News & Opinion

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced its final rule on school meal standards .

The final rule builds upon the USDA's changes to school meal standards announced last year . It will keep the sodium Target 1 limits in place through school year 2023-2024, and Target 2 limits will go into effect for the 2024-2025 school year. The final sodium target (Target 3) will be eliminated.

While operators have been able to meet sodium Target 1 limits, many felt that the second two would be difficult to acheive. Over 90% of respondents in a School Nutrition...

FSD Resources