5 stats on how college students are currently eating
COVID-19 forced myriad changes on higher ed campuses across the country. As schools look to welcome students back for a more normal college experience this fall, here are some statistics on how those diners are eating now, culled from Technomic’s 2021 College & University Consumer Trend Report. (Data is based on surveys conducted in March and April of this year.)
Desire for more delivery
Nearly half of students (48%) say they wish more on-campus dining venues would offer delivery, up 6 percentage points from 2019. Delivery has become more prevalent on campuses in recent months, and many schools look poised to continue, if not expand, those efforts next school year. Last week, the University of Florida announced that its dining team will this fall debut a new food delivery platform started by a UF alum.
But not for all
When dine-in restrictions from COVID are lifted, 15% of students say they will primarily dine in on campus, cutting down on takeout and delivery, while 37% plan to keep ordering food for off-premise consumption over dining in.
Looking to connect
Nearly 40% of students say they visited campus eateries less often during COVID because they weren’t able to socialize at those spots. Joe Charette, executive director of dining services at Rutgers University, hit on that sentiment during a recent roundtable discussion for the FSD Community. “Communal dining is what colleges have been built around,” he said, adding that he thinks “people want to be back together” and may eschew takeout in order to spend time with their friends.
Snack demand was on the upswing during the pandemic as diners’ traditional routines were disrupted, and college students were no exception. In general, students say they are snacking 5.8 times per week.
Interest in plant-forward dining, which was already on the rise before COVID, has likewise been seeing a boost of late. One-tenth of current students consider themselves semivegetarian (only eating specific kinds of meat), while 13% say they follow a flexitarian diet (allowing occasional meat or fish), an increase of 6 percentage points from 2019.