University of Pittsburgh
Students want food that supports a healthy environment and diet, and plant-based options, which may or may not be vegan, make vegetables the star of the show with their flavor, color and protein, rather than mere side dishes. Pictured is Sodexo’s Forward Food pop-up cart at the University of Pittsburgh that features plant-forward dishes.
Social Food Sized Right
Boston College Dining Services
Small, shareable plates such as tapas, mezze and antojitos allow students to sample multiple dishes or share with friends. It also lets them to size their meals up or down, leading to less food waste. Pictured is one of the selections available at the Best Concept Award winning Tapas station at Boston College.
Stony Brook University
With popular restaurants mainstreaming international flavors, social media making the world a smaller place, the growing number of international students bringing their own taste preferences and food traditions to US and Canadian universities and the increasing interest among American students for new flavors from across the globe, dishes from around the world are gaining in popularity on campuses. Pictured is a Greek gyro dish from Stony Brook University.
Bowls, Bowls, Bowls
Vanderbilt University Dining
Portable and customizable, bowls are all the rage in today’s college dining world. Grain, acai berry, smoothie, poke, ramen, rice and everything in between, bowls are easy to assemble quickly and allow for layering of a variety of ingredients. “There is something comforting about holding a bowl,” Feldman observes. Pictured is a selection from the [email protected] James Bistro at Vanderbilt University.
Crazy for Customization
Iowa State University Dining Services
College students have grown up with fast casual dining options that allow for customization, whether it’s Mexican or sandwiches or salads or whatever, and that’s what they expect to see from campus dining programs as well. Pictured is the Lance & Ellie’s shop at Iowa State, where students can create their own sandwiches from a wide range of meats, cheeses, toppings and dressings.
High-end Restaurants Go to School
Bruce Palmer, FSU Photography Services
Many college students don’t have the money to eat at high-end, urban restaurants but by partnering with celebrity chefs, universities can serve a taste of them at affordable prices. For example, Sodexo has partnered with James Beard Award-winning chef Art Smith (Art and Soul in Washington, DC, Table Fifty-Two in Chicago, etc.) to offer his famous healthy comfort food at college dining centers across the US, such as at Florida State University (pictured), rotating a different selection of dishes each season.
Providing students with allergies a safe place to eat where they do not feel singled out socially is a growing priority in college/university dining. Sodexo’s Simple Servings concept (pictured), now at more than 120 university dining centers, provides dishes prepared without common food allergens like shellfish, wheat, dairy, eggs, milk and tree nuts. Some of the schools also have pantries that stock gluten-free and nut-free snacks and bakery items, and kitchen staff are trained on safe food handling procedures to create an allergy-safe environment.