9. Iowa State University, Ames, IA
Students Living on Campus: 12,237
Dining Head: Nancy Keller, director of dining services
Total Enrollment: 34,732
No. of Meal Plans Sold: 10,406
Annual Dining Program Revenues: $42.6 million
Cost Range of Residential Meal Plans: $2,945-$4,045/year
No. of Residential Dining Halls/Commons: 4
No. of Retail Outlets: 21
Phone: (515) 294-3856
A 2013 recipient of the Restaurant Neighbor Award for the state of Iowa by the NRA, Iowa State’s self-operated Dining Services (ISU Dining) operates 21 locations that include residential dining centers, restaurants, markets and cafés. ISU Dining’s operations also feature a catering department, commissary kitchen, made-fresh bakery and food stores operation.
The dining infrastructure has been almost completely overhauled and updated over the past decade thanks to a $20 million renovation project. The result has been an explosion in voluntary meal plan sales that have boosted revenues at retail operations almost threefold.
ISU Dining works closely with its campus community to support sustainable practices, partnering with ISU’s Student Organic Farm to grow and harvest fresh produce for its menus, as well as providing pre- and post-consumer food waste to the university’s compost facility. In the past year, the department has added a full-time registered dietitian who helps to plan meals for the Special Diet Kitchen and an executive chef, and continues to expand its culinary team.
It opened its latest offering, ABE’s Harvest Café, this fall, and will open a new venue, Simple Plate, within an existing dining center next spring. ISU Dining also continues to expand its meal bundle program, which allows students to bundle an entrée, sides and a drink across campus, to include additional breakfast and late-night options.