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Students from China have been moving off campus in droves
Boston University hopes upgraded Chinese dishes in dining halls will keep more international students living on campus.
Plenty of international students want to study at Boston University, but apparently they don’t all want to live there while they do it. After noticing that most students from China ditch the residence halls in favor of off-campus housing, the school is making an effort to improve meals to keep them on campus.
According to BU Today, “while 75 percent of American and non-Chinese international students return to campus housing their sophomore year, fewer than half of Chinese students do.”
After surveying some undergrads, the university traced at least part of the problem back to the dining halls.
“We saw that dining is an extremely important item,” said Marc Robillard, executive director of housing and dining. “It’s a menu issue, certainly, but it’s also a preparation issue. We can think something is authentic, but it can be way off. It has to be prepared the right way.”
So BU is moving away from the fried chicken strips in sweet and sour sauce that pass for Chinese food on some college campuses and towards dishes that are at least trying to be more authentic.
“Traditional methods, such as stewing, braising, baking, steaming, and boiling are our current direction at BU,” said dining services executive chef Christopher Bee.
While it remains to be seen if the new menu will entice more students to live on campus, better food can’t hurt the school’s case. The university has added 15 new, theoretically more authentic Chinese dishes to the monthly menus in its residential dining halls, and they’ve even added warm water dispensers in the dining halls after figuring out that the Chinese students didn’t like drinking their water ice cold.
BU students create Instagram page dedicated to reforming dining hall food
Another food-themed Instagram account has hit the internet. But, unlike the traditional foodstagram, it’s not showcasing aesthetic avocado toast.
The @bubadeats Instagram page. The account allows Boston University students to send in photos of dining hall meals that did not meet their expectations. ILLUSTRATION BY THALIA LAUZON/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
A Boston University freshman in the Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, who asked to remain anonymous, created @bubadeats on Instagram with several of their floormates.
The account was created out of frustrations with the quality, quantity and taste of BU’s dining hall food. BU students can submit photos of dining hall meals they find disappointing, unhealthy, or not “up to par.”
“It’s not an account to complain,” the student said, “rather just voicing our concerns and raising awareness for the food that we’re getting.”
The account, which launched Dec. 13, has more than 80 followers and posts comparisons between the food students have received from a dining hall and a “normal” version of the meal, according to the account.
Some photos are captioned with specific criticisms, such as a dead fly in a salad.
@bubadeats has gained both approval and criticism from the BU community, the account’s creator said. While some students have left comments defending the dining halls, others have contacted the account to share their grievances with the food’s quality.
“We’ve gotten lots of text, emails, DMs,” they said, “and from what we’ve heard, [the] majority of people are on board. They’ve had similar experiences.”
The account owners are hoping to raise awareness about students’ experiences with BU dining and inspire change.
“Once we have a collection big enough, because we know so many people have been dealing with this, we’ll see where to take it,” they said, “and hopefully take it to the next level.”
The student said these food-related complaints are worth sharing, because under a BU meal plan — except the unlimited plan — every meal swipe exceeds $10.
“You could go out to Chipotle and get something for 8, $9, and be much more satisfied than you were with the dining halls,” they said.
BU spokesperson Colin Riley wrote in an email that nearly all of the changes BU dining has made this Fall — such as the take-out model, disposable containers, service-model changes and lack of self-serve stations — have been necessitated by public health guidance.
“BU Dining has a very strong commitment to the safety of our staff,” he wrote, “and that has changed the format of how we provide meals and beverages during the pandemic.”
Certified nutritionists from SAR carefully review the dining hall menus, Riley wrote. He added that pictures on @bubadeats are old and not representative of what the dining hall serves daily.
Riley wrote that, along with in-person visits, students can reach the dining hall through a virtual “contact us” option on BU Dining Services’ website, where staff can respond to feedback.
“Dining staff, like all of us, can sometimes make mistakes,” he wrote. “The important thing is to encourage students to speak directly with the dining hall managers or the executive chefs if they have concerns, or they feel the meal they were served did not meet their expectations.”
In terms of on-campus eating habits, there has been a “large shift in student consumption patterns,” Riley wrote — this year, students typically visit the dining hall once a day and take more food than in past years, when they would eat there about twice a week.
Hannah DiPilato, a sophomore in the College of Communication, found she did not eat in the dining halls often despite paying for an Apartment Plan.
“I thought I would go to the dining hall a lot, because freshman year I lived in Warren [Towers] and I went to the dining hall all the time and I really liked it,” DiPilato said. “But this year I found myself never really liking anything on the menu.”
DiPilato said the inability to customize meals was difficult because it limited her dining options, and when she wanted to use dining points, those locations would often close early.
“I definitely ate a lot of Raising Cane’s chicken fingers, but other than that, pretty much everything closed before dinner time,” DiPilato said. “If you wanted dinner, it was pretty much dining hall or chicken or nothing.”
Andrew Shulov, a freshman in the Questrom School of Business, wrote in an email he had lost weight since coming to school, and was not satisfied with the dining hall.
“There were days when there were some options that weren’t horrible,” Shulov wrote, “but overall it was not a great experience.”
COM sophomore Griffin Morrill said for him, the dining hall changes were not impossible to overcome, but required an adjustment.
“I just had to adapt to it,” Morrill said. “I took the cereal cups that they would provide at lunch, and I’d bring it to my dorm and buy milk to have breakfast … I feel like I definitely went to the [George Sherman Union] more.”
Morrill said he thinks the Instagram account is good for awareness. However, he understands that BU Dining Services is doing “a pretty decent job,” given all the restrictions it must abide by.
“They are trying to serve thousands of students daily and they’re trying to give [food] to a variety of people with tons of different options, allergies, restrictions,” he said. “I feel like they still do a pretty good job, it’s just kind of limited.”
Despite these limitations, the account creator said they hope raising their voice on social media will better the dining hall experience.
“We hope that we can help everyone and make a change,” they said. “It’s not anything against the dining hall workers or the institution itself, it’s just looking out for the students.
The Best International Meals at Boston College
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I’m personally a fan of BC’s dining hall food, but even I know it can get repetitive. My favorite way to switch it up is by indulging in BC’s various international options. I’ll admit, I was hesitant to try some of the more “foreign” options for fear of diverging from my usual lunch and dinner routines, but the international offerings have come to be some of my all-time favorite meals. I encourage you to leave your comfort zone of mac and cheese Mondays and New England Classic sandwiches and try some of the delectable international options below.
1. Tikki Masala
Photo by Morgan Pagliocco
The chicken tikki masala bowl in Mac is life changing. This bowl of rice and flavorful chicken (which you can substitute for veggies or tofu) topped with tomatoes, cucumbers, crispy onions, mint, cilantro, and a sauce of your choosing is a must for anyone who needs to make a departure from the salad bar or grilled chicken.
#Spoontip: If you’re obsessed with cilantro like I am, try the cilantro aioli on top. Otherwise, go for the tamarind or tomato chutney.
2. Stir Fry
Photo by Morgan Pagliocco
An option at several of BC’s dining halls, the stir fry station is a great way to mix up your dinner. The best part is that it’s all custom made you pick out the veggies, hand them to a chef, and they add the meat and sauce and cook it up in front of you. How’s that for service?
3. Chinese Food
Getting Chinese food, especially at Lower, always means a long line. But I assure you, it is worth the wait. I will admit that I ended up spending $17 in order to get dumplings, General Gau’s Chicken, and rice, but it was a solid alternative to spending real, non-dining dollars money on greasy Chinese takeout.
#Spoontip: check out this article to learn how to make an easy Chinese meal on your own so your delivery guy will stop judging you – we’ve all been there.
4. Mexican/Spanish Food
Photo courtesy of Boston College Dining Services
Multiple dining halls, including Stuart and Lower, have weekly Mexican specials including quesadillas, burritos, Mexican bowls, and nachos. There’s a reason the line is always out the door: all of the meal options come with rice and beans, sour cream, salsa, and guacamole and are totally delicious. After the Chipotle norovirus drama, I’m sure BC students can agree that it’s nice to have some good, clean Mexican food within walking distance. If you’re really lucky, you might even get to experience the tapas station in Stuart with some really delicious options.
Tikki Masala Tuesdays are now my favorite day of the week. Take a step outside of your food comfort zone and go for one of these international options – I can guarantee Stir-Fry Saturdays or Mexican Mondays will become a staple for you too.
An Asian’s Take on Why Cultural Appropriation of Food Is Offensive
One of the thoughts that pop into my mind as I order the “Chinese chicken salad” I’m going to take home for dinner is that I hope my server doesn’t see me and try to draw a connection between my choice of salad and my race. In my head, I argue, “Yes, I am Asian. No, that has nothing to do with the fact I ordered the salad that claims to be ‘Chinese’ on the menu.”
Yup, it’s as ridiculous as it sounds.
Less ridiculous are the thoughts I have as I sit down and start to stab at the pieces of chicken and greens in my plastic take-out bowl. First of all, what does the label “Chinese” even have to do with the salad I’m eating? Is it the fact that the ingredients of the dressing include sesame oil and soy sauce? Is it because of the canned mandarin oranges that limply sit between the layers of lettuce? I pause for a moment in disappointment as I realize that I’m literally consuming a form of cultural appropriation.
Recently, students at Oberlin College came to similar conclusions with the food served at their dining halls. Although the offerings were inspired by good intentions (hello, cultural diversity), my peers at Oberlin found their dining halls to be serving heavily misrepresented versions of cultural dishes. In response, national media outlets have picked up the news, some being quick to add a disparaging note to the student actions and aligning it with the trending argument about university students that are too sensitive and overly concerned with political correctness.
The food itself isn’t the disappointing part. My salad’s delicious (but I can’t vouch for dining hall food). What’s disappointing is how easy it is to slap a cultural descriptor to a food item that’s vaguely inspired by the culture it’s named after. If you think about it, the “Chinese” or “Oriental” chicken salads you encounter every so often at different eating establishments has very little to do with China, Chinese food, or even Asia as a whole.
The issue at hand isn’t complicated. Simply put, why label a dish as being a cultural element when it’s not? In Oberlin College’s case, a bánh mì-esque sandwich is merely a pork sandwich, while my “Chinese chicken salad” is just a chicken citrus salad. Shocked? Don’t be.
The underlying implications of cultural mislabeling are bigger. Misrepresenting cultural dishes can, yes, feel like a slap in the face to some. Food is an important part of any culture, both rich with historical and, for those who have grown up within a certain cultural background, with familial associations. Misrepresentations of cultural foods is just the beginning of how food can result in mishandling of culture, such as the growing trend of restaurants serving cultural foods that may have brought wrinkled noses and gags of disgust in the not-too-distant past.
Although it may require some conscious effort as we increasingly continue to consume and glamorize ethnic foods, it is possible to both enjoy what we eat and respect where it comes from. Americanized Asian food can be an amazing guilty pleasure and, chances are that the plate of pasta you order at the neighborhood Italian restaurant or your mom’s spaghetti is going to be pretty damn different from what an Italian restaurant in Italy will serve you.
However, there’s a fine line between appropriating cultural food and creating something entirely new and amazing out of it, like the tacos served out of Roy Choi’s infamous Kogi trucks – especially if the cultures in question have a history of being socially marginalized.
Sure, maybe Oberlin’s students are making an argument about cultural appropriation when it’s really just the shitty quality of dining hall food they should be being critical about. But why should we have to settle for shitty dining hall foods, much less the poor attempts at making these foods culturally diverse?
Regardless of whether it’s through sub-par dining hall food or bougie menu items from “that one really popular place,” the way we serve up cultural foods is all a part of how we perceive and reinforce the role of different cultures within our communities.
So what should we do? Go seek out and experience all the food. When you get the chance, try everything – whether it’s in the various cultural enclaves scattering giant cities like LA or NYC, the local mom and pop shops with the immigrant owners who lovingly dish up their favorite home-country dishes, or the innovative establishments serving the coolest mash-ups of foreign dishes you’ve never heard of.
But most importantly, as you do so, make sure to seek out the stories behind these foods. Whether it’s by dragging your friend who’s grown up eating what’s on the menu with you to dinner or by doing a quick Google search on your smartphone, there’s no end to what you can learn.
Lastly, don’t feel obligated to settle for bad bánh mì. Now, let’s go eat.
Colleges doing more to help students eat healthy
Maria-Jose Vasquez, 19, chose a grilled chicken sandwich, asparagus salad, and fruit at Boston University. ARAM BOGHOSIAN FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE
For Brandeis junior Brandon Frank, it was the lack of exercise that got him. He’d played tennis in high school, but couldn’t find time in college. That, combined with the soft serve ice cream and dining hall pizza he treated himself to each weekend, tacked on seven pounds by the end of his freshman year.
“I was finding it easy to get off track,” he said, “with all the food options they have at school.”
Many universities have instituted healthy eating programs in recent years, but just telling students to make healthy choices often isn’t enough. So some schools are going further.
This year, the University of Massachusetts is testing a new salad bar intended to show students which ingredients make the healthiest meal. Suffolk University dining halls will offer plastic MyPlates — based on the USDA’s MyPlate nutrition guide — proportionately divided so students can see how much of each food group they should be eating. Boston College is launching a student health-coach program, to train students about nutrition so they can educate and collaborate with dorms and campus groups.
“Our mission as educators isn’t just in the classroom,” said nutritionist Sheila Tucker of BC’s Office of Health Promotion, which launched last year. “It’s important we educators empower our students to go out and make great lifelong healthy decisions.”
Those decisions are paramount when 78 million adults nationwide are classified as obese and have a Body Mass Index greater than 30. The extra pounds not only make people unhappy with how they look and feel, but they increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and sleep apnea.
“There’s a great emphasis on the obesity epidemic that we’re being faced with as a nation,” said Tufts University dietitian Julie Lampie, “and I think the public service messages surrounding eating fruits and vegetables has made a mark.”
While that may be true, many students — raised in era of 20-ounce soft drinks and restaurants featuring bottomless pasta bowls — have little grasp of serving sizes even when they try to eat well.
Danielle Shargorodsky, who oversees nutrition programs for about 50 schools in New England for the food service company Sodexo, said students automatically think eating salad is healthy, for example, but that’s not always the case. Sodexo is rolling out a new salad bar program to educate students about which ingredients to use to make nutritious offerings such as Chinese chicken or Caesar salads.
“I get questions at all the colleges like, ‘I’m eating salad and gaining weight. What’s going on?’ ” Shargorodsky said.
Of course, when students saturate their salads with a cup of ranch dressing — which totals more than 1,000 calories and 120 grams of fat — that’s going to lead to weight gain, she added.
Then there are students — presented with dining halls and meal plans brimming with pastas, stir fry, beef, casseroles, pizza, apple pie, and ice cream all at once — who simply don’t know how to handle the abundance of food choices, according to nutrition specialists.
At home, if a parent made chicken for dinner, then chicken it was.
“Students come in, and they have no idea what they should be eating for breakfast, lunch, and dinner,” said Sherrie Delinsky, a psychologist and eating disorders specialist at McLean Hospital.
At Brandeis, where a nutritionist is available for consultations and the dining halls offer local and organic foods, many students still find themselves struggling to eat right. Brandeis nutritionist Laura O’Gara provides counseling for about 25 students a week, but finds the number spiking midway through first semester.
“After just having a free-for-all when it comes to eating, they realize that they’re not feeling so well, and they can maybe use some advice,” she said.
While many students need to be educated about healthy eating, said Delinsky, colleges championing nutrition should be mindful of students who have eating disorders or believe they need to diet when they don’t.
“The message has to be done in a thoughtful way so people don’t become more obsessed with food and more afraid to eat certain foods,” she said.
Delinsky authored a 2008 study in the journal Eating Behaviors that found the “freshman 15” — a term referring to first-year weight gain, popularized in a Seventeen magazine article in 1989 — is a myth. The 336 college women she studied gained an average of 7 pounds by the end of freshman year.
Another study showed that 25 percent of female freshmen lose weight by the end of the school year.
Jay Zagorsky, an assistant BU finance professor and researcher at The Ohio State University, used the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth that has collected data on a random sample of 9,000 people since they were teens.
Of the 7,418 students who responded, the average weight gain after freshman year was 3.1 pounds for women and 3.5 pounds for men. Binge drinkers (classified as having six or more drinks four days per month) put on an extra pound a year.
“People say, ‘I don’t want to gain weight in college,’ ” Zagorsky said. “What I’d tell you after watching these people age is don’t be a heavy drinker.”
Beside steering clear of alcohol, not being faced with fatty (if delicious) food in the first place may be the biggest help of all for students.
At Boston University, food that complies with the Department of Agriculture’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines is labeled with a red heart wearing a chef’s hat. The so-called Sargent Choice sticker (named for the school’s Sargent Choice Nutrition Center) above meatloaf, for example, means the dish was made with lean turkey, while Sargent Choice pizza contains reduced-fat cheese and whole wheat dough.
More than 85 percent of students recognize the sticker, according to Stacey Zawacki, director of the Sargent Choice Nutrition Center. Zawacki said many college dining halls label nutritious options or use display cards listing ingredients, but the center decided to take it one step further.
“We wanted to work with chefs to develop recipes for this program,” she said. “We didn’t want to just say you can go to the salad bar, eat whole wheat bread, and put vegetables in your omelettes.”
Students have definitely noticed.
“The food has gotten healthier each year,” said Hannah Nichols, a School of Public Health graduate student, who has eaten dining hall fare the past four years. There are still burgers and fries available, Nichols said, but the chicken fingers and mozzarella sticks have disappeared. She looked at the remains of the grilled chicken sandwich she had for dinner and realized it had a whole wheat bun.
“They’re providing healthier food, and we don’t even know they’re doing it,” she said.
Boston University junior Fannar Arnarsson, who was opting for the Sargent Choice granola with yogurt for dessert, said he understands why some students gain weight in college. Before transferring to BU, he attended the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he said meat patties sandwiched between two glazed doughnuts was regularly featured on the menu.
Allan Sheldon, Chef de Cuisine
There’s something about the South that draws Chef Allan Sheldon’s attention his favorite place is Key West. He ventured to Charleston, South Carolina for culinary training and a Food Service Management degree from Johnson & Wales University. But his heart is in Michigan. As Chef de Cuisine East Quad, he loves the grand scale of the operation, with walk-in coolers filled with fresh ingredients in the morning and emptied by night after an active day of cooking. Chef Allan thinks the students here are special and enjoys introducing them to new foods, especially those shaped by his Southern training.
Ultimate Guide to Eating at UMN
Food is a hugely important part of college. Its nice to know that you can have a great meal after a long day of studying. Here at UMN, we’re pretty lucky to have a lot of options when it comes to on campus dining. Keep reading for my ultimate guide to eating at UMN!
Meal Plan Breakdown
With the exception of university owned apartments, if you live in the residence halls, you are required to have a meal plan. The meal plans consist of ‘swipes’ on your Ucard, used whenever you enter a dining hall, or FlexDine, which is usable at all restaurants in University buildings, as well as at vending machines and convenience stores in residence halls. It’s important to know that swipes don’t roll over from week to week, so make sure to keep track to get the most out of your meal plan.
There are three types of meal plans available to students at the UMN. Each plan comes with $100 of FlexDine and 10 guest passes per semester. Each plan can be ‘upgraded,’ boosting your FlexDine balance to $250.
Anytime Dining Plan
This meal plan has unlimited swipes at all residence halls, at any time of day. This meal plan is overkill for most students, unless you’re an athlete or just someone who eats all the time. This is the most expensive meal plan by about two hundred dollars, but also offers the most flexibility.
14 Meals per Week Plan
As the name suggests, this meal plan provides you with 14 meals per week. Although this breaks down to two meals per day of the week, with the abundance of food options on campus, many students find themselves not using every swipe.
11 Meals per Week Plan
While 11 meals per week seems skimpy, this meal plan tends to be a sweet spot for most students, especially if you have a schedule that conflicts with dining hall serving times.
All residence halls have the same basic schedule, with differences based on hall as well as for breaks and holidays.
Centennial Hall, Comstock Hall, and Pioneer Hall are all fairly similar in what they offer for food, but vary vastly in atmosphere. However, for the most part, these halls offer your typical dorm food, like pizza, burgers, and fries, as well as other home-style meals. Each has a salad bar, and vegetarians can expect the occasional hot entree to fit their needs. These dining halls cater to the Super Block, which is the largest concentration of students staying in residential halls.
Comstock Hall and Pioneer Hall also have a soup and salad option during weekdays from 1:30pm to 3:30pm, bridging the gap between lunch and dinner.
If you’re looking for a late dinner, Centennial Hall is the best way to make use of your meal swipes. While other dining halls close at 8:00pm, Sunday through Thursday, Centennial Hall offers “Late Night,” starting at 7PM and going until midnight. The food provided differs night by night, but you can expect a sandwich bar, salad bar, pizza, a couple hot entrees, and dessert.
Sanford is rarely students’ first choice of dorm at UMN, and its dining hall is equally underappreciated. Residents can expect the usual dorm food, but those with dietary restrictions aren’t limited to just the salad bar. While the hall is full of fresh offerings and friendly staff, Sanford’s dining areas are rarely crowded. If you have classes near Dinkytown, this is the perfect place to use your meal plan swipes.
Fresh Food Company (17th)
The 17th Avenue Residence Hall has a unique dining hall, in that the hall is run by a different company than all other residence halls. The Fresh Food Company is known for having a wide range of options for each meal, and caters well to dietary restrictions with multiple options for vegetarians and vegans. Food tends to be fresh and creative, and is accompanied by the college stand-bys like pizza and cereal. Considered to be the best dining hall on campus by many students, the dining hall is often packed during meal times.
Being the only dining hall on West Bank, Middlebrook residents seem to have gotten decently lucky. Middlebrook is known for being friendly for those with dietary restrictions, with at least one vegetarian or vegan option, as well as a varied salad bar, sandwich station, and omelet station. While not exempt from dorm food boredom, Middlebrook’s dining hall goes beyond the typical dorm food at UMN.
Like Sanford, Bailey Hall is not many students’ first choice, unless they are pursuing agricultural studies or apparel design. However, Bailey Hall makes up for its distance from the main campus with its dining hall, whose offerings have been compared to the Fresh Food Company.
Bailey hall has something for everyone, and, being the only option on St. Paul campus, it caters well to those with special dietary needs. If you have classes in St. Paul, Bailey hall is a great way to use your meal swipes.
Coffman Union’s Minnesota Marketplace
When it comes to FlexDine options, Coffman Union is the place to be. Coffman is home to popular places like Einstein Brothers Bagels, Erbert and Gerbert’s, Panda Express, Chik-Fil-A, Baja Sol. Other options include salads from Greens to Go, pizza from Topio’s, and home-style dinners from Cranberry Farms. The Marketplace also has a wide selection of packaged options, making it perfect for picking up lunch in between classes. If you’re looking for a place to sit, good luck– the place is packed from about mid-morning until afternoon.
Besides the Marketplace, you can find a Jamba Juice on the first floor of Coffman next to the auditorium, or head over the The Cube to grab coffee from Starbucks.
St. Paul Student Center
The St. Paul Student Center caters to a far smaller student body than the Coffman Union, and the food options here reflect that. The Terrace Cafe Food Court offers small selection of grab-and-go food items, as well as a Subway, Papa Johns, and Greens to Go salads. Besides the dining hall in Bailey Hall, these are your only options on St. Paul campus.
Carlson School of Management
Here you can find a small food court with grab-and-go options as well as a Panda Express and Burger Studio. The Bistro West Restaurant offers meals similar to residence dining halls, and is located in Humphrey Center, which is attached to Carlson’s main building by just a hallway. Head through the skyway to Hanson Hall to pick up Starbucks before your next West Bank class.
Located just off the Washington Bridge on West Bank, Blegen Hall houses a convenience store, as well as a Subway, ecoGrounds coffee bar, and a Papa Johns. This is the perfect place to pick up an on-the-go lunch or coffee. If you have a little more time, the small seating area is the perfect place to do some last minute studying.
Other University of Minnesota Highlights
While there are plenty of University owned places to eat, any University of Minnesota student will tell you that your best options will be found beyond the student unions.
Also known as Stadium Village due to its close proximity to TCF Bank Stadium, Washington Avenue is home to dozens of restaurants, including several chain restaurants with the likes of Noodles and Company and Chipotle, as well as independent restaurants. Because there’s far too many options to fully list and review here, here’s the highlights.
If you’re looking for something more unique than a chain restaurant, family-run Hong Kong Noodle has been a student favorite for Chinese food and take-out for decades. If Middle Eastern cuisine suits your tastes better, head to Abdul’s Afandy for friendly service and fresh falafel.
Although it’s still a chain, you can’t go wrong with Raising Cane’s simple but satisfying menu of chicken fingers, toast, and fries.
Enjoy award winning UMass Dining with access to any of our four all you care to eat dining facilities conveniently located across campus. Guest meals and meal exchanges, which can be used at our retail outlets with a value of $10.50 per meal exchange, are included in Residential Meal Plans.
YCMP Intersession meals are for students who would like to eat in the Dining Commons or at retail dining locations during the summer. YCMP Summer begins the day after the spring semester meal plans end and continues throughout the summer, ending the evening before the fall semester meal plans begin. Meals are sold in blocks of twenty. Simply go to SPIRE to purchase YCMP Summer the Meal Plan panel is located under the “Finances” section.
Discover everything you need to know about today’s residential university environment, from our remote-hybrid learning system to safety-enhanced residences and dining halls to club and recreation activities.
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Read on for the top 10 colleges with delicious dining options.
10. Temple University
Temple University offers an abundance of food options for particularly picky students. With 14 different meal plans to choose from, usable at the two main dining halls, students are offered a variety of non-stop food. Some of the plan options range from a five-meal-a-week plan to an unlimited meal plan in which students can visit the dining halls whenever they please.
Equivalent to real money accepted at most food venues on and around campus, many of these plans also come with Temple’s student cash known as “Diamond Dollars.” Not only can these plans be used at the dining halls, but at two more food courts with multiple fast-food options including Chick-Fil-A and Panda Bistro, along with 11 small-owned restaurants that are located on campus.
“The best dining options at Temple are the food trucks and small businesses around campus. Places like the Honey truck, the Halal carts, the bagel huts and others provide so many options for whatever you might want,” Temple graduate Bonnie Giberson said
Tired of the dining hall already? Some go-to locations for students include Richie’s, where everyone will direct you for the best iced-coffee on campus. Make sure to also check out Maxi’s, a fan-favorite pizza place by day and the most popular bar on campus by night. There’s also the Draught Horse Pub, a bar known for its deals on wings and for the hours-long line during the infamous “White Girl Wednesday” nights.
You can’t forget about all of the food trucks that line the streets of campus, providing options of every type of food imaginable. Averaging at around nine dollars per meal, food around Temple won’t break the bank for students. Any time of day or night, Temple has something nearby to suit your cravings, from sweet to savory.
9. Tulane University
Tulane finds itself smack-dab in middle of New Orleans, a rather expensive city when it comes to dining at around $14 per meal. Commonly flaunted as one of the most extravagant cities in the country regarding food, New Orleans offers students so many delicious food options they’ll need more than two hands to keep count. Tulane offers students the option to purchase a meal plan which come in the options of eight meals a week, 10 meals a week, 15 meals a week, or an unlimited meal option.
With dozens of places for off-campus dining, over 20 surrounding restaurants such as Bruno’s Tavern, Broadway Pizza and Empanola accept the school’s “NOLA Bucks,” which are worth the same as cash and come in handy when the dining hall food gets old. Students will definitely look forward to their next meal more often than not. If you want the true Tulane experience, a few token venues around campus that you must visit include The Rum House, a Caribbean and Latin American cocktail bar where there’s always a party going down and The Dough Bowl, one of the only New York style pizza places in New Orleans.
Tulane students also find themselves with many on-campus options, with 25 on-campus food venues including the “City Diner”, open from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. and known for its 16-inch Big City Pancake which was recently renovated and replaced by a new area called “The Rathskeller Lounge.” The school also added a new taco bar, which offers students the chance to build their own Latin rice bowls, salads, tacos and burritos. A new food truck called “Roulez,” one of the first food trucks in the nation to accept student meal-plans, recently found itself on campus as well.
Aside from the new additions to the Bruff Commons dining hall, along with the food court that includes multiple food shops such as Panera Bread, Tulane also holds special themed nights where they serve New Orleans staple dishes. Delicious meals include Red Bean Mondays, Fried Chicken Wednesdays and Gumbo Fridays — just some of the over 100 various dining events that they hold on campus each year. If you end up in New Orleans, just know that you will end up satisfied with your daily food options.
8. University of Pennsylvania
Situated minutes from the chopped beef and cheese whiz-filled heart of Philadelphia, The University of Pennsylvania sits in one of the most convenient areas for food lovers. With dozens of options to choose from right on campus, dining at UPenn surely will leave you facing one of the hardest decisions of your life: what should you eat? The school offers seven meal plans, including one that allows 51 visits to the dining halls per semester, to the biggest plan which allows 301 visits.
Students can choose to use their plans at one of the five on-campus dining halls such as Hill House, Lauder College House and 1920 Commons along with multiple retail locations like Starbucks and an off-campus market. With the cost of food around University of Pennsylvania falling on the pretty expensive side (some around $15 per meal) students with a meal plan find themselves set when it comes to dinner time.
“Even though Penn is right in a city with one of the largest selections of food, I feel as though I don’t have to go too far off-campus to find a reasonably priced meal that both fills me and tastes wonderful at the same time,” UPenn senior Joseph Leibowitz said
Some staple locations around Penn include Lyn’s Food Truck, always tightly packed with long lines, and the popular pizza joint Allegro’s. The White Dog Café, known for its delicious and award-winning modern American Cuisine, is a nearby hotspot where every student will visit at least once during their time at Penn. UPenn also aims to be as environmentally friendly as possible by putting immense effort into sourcing their food locally. What a way to stick to the idea of farm-to-plate!
UPenn additionally gives students the option to take part in the Green2Go program, which means to help recycle and reduce waste. The program asks students to use reusable containers for their food. If your search for the perfect college included having great dining options available, the University of Pennsylvania will not leave you disappointed.
7. University of California, Los Angeles
With over 50 restaurants just within a mile of campus, it comes as no surprise that the dining options on and around campus at the University of California, Los Angeles seem so vast. Students thrive in one of the most populated areas in the country, with multiple different delicious options to keep them satisfied until their next meal. The university offers six different meal plans, all ranging in flexibility, such as allowing unused meals from one week to carry over to the next week.
For those who work hard to maintain a healthy diet, UCLA offers four of its own outstanding on-campus restaurants such as the Bruin Plate, a Green-Certified restaurant that offers healthy meals for students. The Covel Commons provides delicious Mediterranean inspired dishes such as Greek salad and their Falafel plate, along with options from countries that border the coast of the Mediterranean. UCLA has seven smaller restaurants for quicker food service, such as Rendezvous and Bruin Bowl. With more fine dining options around the area like Napa Valley Grille, Skylight Gardens and West Restaurant & Lounge if you desire a fancy night out, your date will certainly find themselves impressed.
“Rendezvous is by far my favorite dining option at UCLA, though all of them are pretty impressive. What I enjoy most is that there are so many options every time you go there. I also like how you have the choice to either sit down and eat or take your food to go, because most college students usually need to be somewhere,” UCLA junior Hassan Naseem said.
Many dining locations off-campus that students often visit for their meals exist as well, such as Fat Sal’s Deli, which serves massively filling portions. Diddy Riese, known for its customizable ice cream sandwiches also stands out as a hot spot for students. Stan’s Donuts, labeled as one of the best doughnut stores in the entire country, also sits quite close to campus.
As a member of the Healthy Campus Initiative, Menus of Change and the Global Food Initiative, UCLA has programs called the Student Nutrition Awareness Campaign (SNAC) and the Here’s to Health initiative, both of which assist students with healthy eating. A registered dietitian always resides on campus for who students to come to with any questions or concerns. While Los Angeles may not be the cheapest place to attend college, the incredible food might make it worth the price, which on average comes to around $14 per meal. Living your best life in school in one of the hottest cities in the nation, both physically and metaphorically, includes eating the best food possible and UCLA will help with that.
6. Cornell University
Cornell University offers their students quite a variety of great dining options for being such a small college town. Cornell offers five meal plans for their students, along with the option to purchase “City Bucks,” equivalent to real money, which students can use at locations around Ithaca. On campus, Cornell’s dining halls have options for every person’s dietary needs — whether they are vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, kosher, halal, Seventh Day Adventist, Cornell will make sure you can eat.
Their Risley Dining Room, a gluten, peanut and tree-nut-free dining hall, exists on campus to ensure that every student feels as safe as possible. Like many other schools, Cornell actively tries to help reduce its carbon footprint on the planet. In recent years, Cornell University slowly but surely switched over to using as much locally grown food as their ingredients as possible. The dining halls even removed nonreusable plastic trays to reduce waste.
Cornell also hosts themed food nights such as Nutritionland, Peanut Butter Month, A Night at Hogwarts, Baseball Night and Chinese New Year. Cooking these feasts are Cornell’s highly ranked chefs who often come in top places in the National Association of College and University Food Services’ yearly chef contest.
“The themed dining nights at Cornell were incredibly well thought out and always so interesting and fun! I’m the biggest Harry Potter nerd so I obviously loved the Night at Hogwarts event. I never thought I would have such a good time during dinner at college, but I assure you, it was quite the experience,” Cornell alumnus Lillian Royce said
If the dining halls and other on-campus locations don’t tickle your fancy, no need to fret! The surrounding Ithaca area offers a vast amount of food options as well. With the price sitting at around $15 per meal around the area, ordering quicker options every now and then may save you time and money. If times get tough and money gets tight, luckily a Wendy’s, McDonalds, Chipotle, Five Guys plus much more all sit not too far from campus. For those nights to celebrate passing seemingly impossible exams, definitely check out Taverna Banfi, North Star Dining Room or Gola Osteria, all of which will serve you a four-star meal which you’ll surely remember far beyond your years at school.
Collegetown Bagels sticks out as the most iconic name in food around Cornell, with students finding themselves there at least two or three times a week to buy one of their outstanding bagel concoctions. But by far one of the most interesting food-related places on campus is The Cornell Dairy Bar, Cornell’s personal dairy-processing plant. They produce milk, yogurt, pudding and cheese and sell them back to the public. Attending Cornell will leave your brain full of great knowledge… and your stomach full of great food.
5. University of San Diego
As a southern city close to the beach, students who attend The University of San Diego will never need to settle when it comes to dining. San Diego sticks out as a rather expensive city, with the average meal costing about $15 however, at a nearby college you can bite off more than you can chew. The University of San Diego offers its students the option of choosing from over a dozen meal plans, which can be used at the multiple dining venues sat both on and off campus.
Students also can purchase University of SD “Campus Cash”, valued at the same price as cash, which they can spend at 17 off-campus dining locations including Domino’s Pizza, Olive Café and Linda Vista Farmers Market. There are also multiple food trucks, such as Torero Tu Go, which holds claim as the first college self-operated food truck on the West Coast. Many food places around campus such as McDonalds, Sonic, Arby’s and Wendy’s stay open for late night dining, so students will not need to fret or worry about going hungry late at night.
When visiting U San Diego, restaurants that will surely leave your taste buds in a food coma include La Paloma and Neighborhood. At Casa Guadalaraja, you will delight your stomach with some of the finest Mexican food that you could possibly try anywhere. Other locations to make sure to stop at include Truluck’s, Addison Restaurant, Juniper & Ivy, Cowboy Star Restaurant and Butcher Shop and Top of the Market.
The school also holds various food events throughout the year, including Fall’s Applefest and the Strawberry Festival that takes place in the spring. U San Diego even holds a yearly cooking competition for students in which the winner gets their creation featured in the campus dining halls. The University of San Diego instilled many programs to try and become a more environmentally friendly campus. The school uses a bio-digester to turn its food waste into energy in order to be more sustainable overall. Dining at the University of San Diego surely leaves you yearning to return for more delicious cravings as soon as possible.
4. New York University
New York University resides in one of the most ideal locations for anyone who loves food. With restaurants in everywhere you look, the dining options in New York City indeed reign endless. NYU students can choose to purchase a meal-plan, which they can use at any one of the school’s 14 on-campus dining locations. Students can choose to visit the Palladium Dining Hall where they can find a variety of food, or shop at the Bridgeview Market for ingredients. Students can also use “Campus Cash” at off-campus locations like Whole Foods and Starbucks.
Some common staples for NYU students include 5 Napkin Burger, Argo Tea, The Grey Dog, Tortaria, Taboonette and B & H Dairy. Dozens of fast-food options such as Dairy Queen, McDonalds, Wendy’s and Chick-Fil A reside not too far from campus. For nice nights out, many options also exist as well. Some of these include Gotham, Eleven Madison Park and La Lanterna di Vittorio, where you may encounter a once-in-a-lifetime dining experience eating in the grand atmosphere of the grandest city in the nation. All of the restaurants around campus provide students with countless unforgettable nights out to dinner
“I always wanted to attend NYU, everything about the city just speaks to me. I knew that the food around school was something to look forward to, and after being here for almost four years I can say that I have not even tried half of the restaurants close to the main area I’ve stayed in,” NYU senior Lara Lennon said
The university also offers the opportunity for students to learn how to make their own food. NYU recently created a community garden for students to learn how to grow, care for and harvest different fruits and vegetables. Boasting the title of one of the original schools to offer a master’s degree in food studies, NYU allows the inspiration of new generations of chefs and nutritionists.
They care so much about their dining options that they even write a dining services newsletter called “The Scoop”, where students can check out menus and upcoming dining events. If you attend New York University, you absolutely should not need to worry about food variety. Price on the other hand? Well, that’s a different story. Costing around $15 per meal, the city makes it quite expensive to grab a bite to eat. Even so, this doesn’t outweigh the fact that so many options to eat exist in and around the city.
3. University of Michigan
The University of Michigan doesn’t only deserve fame because of its sports teams and rivalries the school upholds one of the most advanced programs when it comes to dining. Ann Arbor Michigan boasts a quite diverse food scene, and paired with the fact that the average price per meal is only around $11, Ann Arbor makes for a fantastic night out. With hundreds of restaurants, anyone finding something to eat that they will enjoy shouldn’t prove a challenge.
The university offers multiple meal-plans to select from for use at the different dining halls across campus, such as East Quad, Mosher-Jordan, North Quad and South Quad. They also can choose to purchase Michigan’s “Blue Bucks,” which virtually every on-campus café, market and dining hall accept, making it unnecessary for students to leave campus to find something to fill their appetite.
“Living in Ann Arbor there are just a ridiculous number of restaurants to eat out at, all within walking distance of central campus. I have a list of all the places I’ve been the last three and a half years and its insane how many great restaurants, like Aventura and Chapala, I still have to go to before I graduate. But I’d say the staple restaurants of campus are definitely the likes of Savas, Frita Batidos, Mani Osteria and, of course, Zingerman’s Delicatessen,” Michigan senior Bennett Bramson said.
Dining on campus leaves many students satisfied with all their nearby options. However, if you do end up visiting Ann Arbor, it’s highly important that you visit Frita Batidos, along with the nationally famous Zingerman’s Delicatessen. Opened in 1982, people claim that Zingerman’s makes some of the best mac and cheese in America, which helped to solidify their spot as one of the most well-known delis in America. So, if you’re a fan of delicious mac and cheese, it’s not something you want to miss.
Vegetarians and vegans are also highly accommodated in the overall Ann Arbor area, with several restaurants solely serving plant-based food. Tasty Bakery, an entirely gluten-free bakery, also sits very close to campus, allowing for a quick and easy snack. Michigan’s highly diverse dining options ensure that students’ stomachs stay satisfied.
2. Northeastern University
The inner harbor area in Boston houses many prestigious universities in and around the small quadrant. As one of the many Universities situated in Boston, Northeastern neighbors an immense number of places to eat. Northeastern University’s three dining halls stand out from most, each which hosts a theme totally different from the others.
First, The International Village gives students the option of various foods from countries all over the world, from sushi to samosas. Secondly, students can visit Levine Marketplace, housing a classic, college dining hall that serves burgers, breakfast food and the school-wide classic chocolate chip cookies. Finally, at Stetson West you will find customizable stir-fries, pizzas and calzones cooked in a brick oven, personalized sandwiches, hot entrées and more to satisfy your rumbling stomach. Though all three dining halls differ when it comes to what they serve, they all offer a number of options for vegetarian and vegans.
When you visit, don’t forget to check out Trident Booksellers & Café, an Indie bookstore and cafe with an all-day breakfast menu. Cappy’s Pizza and Subs, a casual stop for pizza, calzones and cheesesteaks, proves a delicious local favorite. Fast food options include Popeyes, Wendy’s, McDonalds, Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers and Subway. A variety of vendors in Boston, such as Whole foods, accept Northeastern’s meal-plan dollars, so if on-campus dining doesn’t suit you, more options exist in the area.
The school also owns a display kitchen, Xhibition Kitchen, which includes cameras that record presentations, state-of-the-art stovetops and tables for an audience to view the works in progress. Many famous chefs cooked there before, including Jacques Pépin, Ming Tsai, Alex Guarnaschelli and Kristen Kish, a winner of the TV show “Top Chef.” At $13 per meal, Boston rests on the more expensive side of the bar. Though the education should stand as good enough, the food scene in Boston absolutely plays a role in getting many future students to fall in love with Northeastern University.
1. Columbia University
Planting its roots in the Big Apple, one of the most expensive cities at $15 per person, the food will not let you down. Columbia University, a school that dwells in the food capital of the country, sits at the heart of it all. You know, from the iconic one-dollar pizza to the meals that will leave you bankrupt. Not only does the city offer universal options for dining, but Columbia itself hooks its students up well with hundreds of menu options served every day throughout campus.
Columbia offers meal-plans and “Flex Dollars,” spent at off campus locations such as Chipotle, Five Guys and Whole Foods. Enjoy a meal at Ferris Booth Commons or John Jay Dining Hall, both on-campus food venues that accommodate basically every dietary restriction. Columbia additionally includes halal and kosher dining options they offer a completely kosher dining hall that serves various kosher items, along with an entire halal meal-plan that includes homemade classic halal dishes.
“I think I would agree that Columbia is for sure one of the best schools if you’re looking to expand your palate. I mean we’re right outside the Upper West Side, and not too far from Hell’s Kitchen either. There’s no way you’re ever going to run out of places to eat,” Columbia sophomore Dan Vickers said.
In a rush? There are plenty of quick places around campus to grab a bite like McDonalds, Taco Bell, White Castle, Chipotle, Arby’s and Checkers. For nice nights out, check out places such as Pisticci, Le Monde, Friedman’s at Columbia and Tartina. Some iconic places around the area that most students go to include Koronet Pizza, Kitchenette Uptown and Mel’s Burger Bar, where you can try their bottomless brunch. Columbia’s dining halls stay open during break, so any students staying in town do not need to worry about spending extra on food they already paid for.
Columbia also tries to stay very environmentally aware, as they donate mass amounts of food and money to City Harvest, along with purchasing about 52% of all the food they use from local vendors. The school recognizes that not everyone has the proper resources to feed themselves, and offers free food to students who need it without asking any questions. Columbia’s staff includes a registered dietitian who stays available on campus and online for one-on-one meetings with students who request them. Though many schools in the country can brag about a lot when it comes to food programs, none hold more of a right than Columbia University.