What's in store for college dining in 2024

With the spring semester underway, several college dining operations have exciting changes in store for diners. From menu refreshes to renovations and even robot delivery, here’s a look at what’s new in college dining in 2024.
college students eating
College students can expect renovations, menu refreshes and an emphasis on technology this semester. | Photo: Shutterstock.

When it comes to the new semester in college dining, there seems to be an emphasis on keeping things new. Some operations underwent renovations while others expanded their menu offerings or launched new concepts. Here’s a look at how college dining operations are keeping things fresh in 2024.

Renovations and a menu refresh at Temple University

From a newly renovated dining center to the implementation of reusable ware, Temple University in Philadelphia has several changes underway for the Spring 2024 semester. Students returned to campus last month to a renovated Esposito Dining Center which can be found in Temple’s Johnson and Hardwick Hall. The renovation included new decorative signs, colorful food service bars and new televisions displaying online menus, according to Temple’s student-run newspaper.

The new look gives each service bar a unique atmosphere with distinct colors and decals. For instance, green leaves are painted on the salad bar and pink neon signs of treats are displayed at the dessert bar.  

Temple students can also expect a menu refresh thanks to Aramark, the university’s foodservice provider. Students can look for a new all-day pasta bar and expanded dessert and drink bars.

The university also modified the dining halls water supply line during winter break to install a new dishwasher, which allows the school to reintroduce reusable dishware.

Food trucks and other new concepts

At Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., students will find a new food truck on campus. The university has brought Rutgers’ Three Chilies Taco Truck to its array of on-campus food trucks.

And the dining team at Carleton University in Ontario recently debuted a new bubble tea concept, Chatime.

Inclusivity in Dining

Harvard University Dining wants to serve more halal chicken. To that end, the university is in the process of ensuring that the majority of the chicken served in their dining halls is halal, according to the Harvard Crimson.

Leaning into tech

And some operations are leaning into tech with their new offerings. Ball State University Dining has debuted Máka Mia Pizza, a new robotic pizza shop at its Muncie, Ind. campus. The pizza robot can prepare 12 different pizza styles including pepperoni, sausage, cheese, veggie and other options. The starting price for a pie is $12.50. Dining staff celebrated the new concept on National Pizza Day which took place on Feb. 9. The team gave out free pizza samples in honor of the day.

“The new Máka Mia Pizza robotic machine is one example of Ball State University Dining’s commitment to providing the campus community with exciting new opportunities,” said Karen Adkins, senior director of auxiliaries for university food, beverage, conference services, and special events, in a statement “We are pleased to partner with Máka Mia to bring a great product to the University.”

Robot Delivery debuts in South Carolina

And students at the University of South Carolina (USC) in Columbia, S.C., may see new robotic creatures roaming campus this year. The university teamed up with Grubhub and Starship Technologies, manufacturer of delivery robots, to launch on campus food delivery. Starship’s fleet of autonomous robots will service over 30,000 students, faculty and staff through the Grubhub app. Diners can choose from 11 different on-campus dining options.

“I’m excited to see our new robot friends on our campus,” USC President Michael Amiridis said, in a statement. “I’m sure our students will welcome them and put them to work to deliver their food.”

This development also marks Starship’s debut in South Carolina.

“We’re looking forward to launching our first service in South Carolina,” said Chris Neider, vice president of business development at Starship Technologies, in a statement. “It’s extra special each time we launch service in a new state and we’re really excited to introduce the USC campus to our little robots and the convenience of autonomous delivery.”