47. University of Texas-Austin, Austin, TX
Dining Head: Rene Rodriguez, director of food service
Total Enrollment: 51,000
Students Living on Campus: 7,400
No. of Meal Plans Sold: 7,400
Annual Dining Program Revenues: $25 million
Cost Range of Residential Meal Plans: n/a (included in housing contract)
No. of Residential Dining Halls: 2
No. of Retail Outlets: 8
Phone: (512) 471-6021
Jester 2nd Floor (J2), the largest dining facility at UT-Austin, recently underwent a three-year, $12.6 million renovation, updating the venue’s appearance, improving pedestrian pathways and installing action stations throughout the main dining area. Sustainability was a focus, upgrading the venue with energy efficient equipment, lighting and refrigeration.
UT-Austin has made food allergies and celiac disease a priority and the Food Allergy Support Team (FAST) provides support, collaborating with the Services for Students with Disabilities office. These efforts recently earned the school the No. 8 spot on Udi’s 2014 list of Top 10 Gluten Free Accommodating Colleges.
About 23% of the $8 million annual food budget goes to local, sustainable, organic and fair trade items and progress continues toward a zero waste future with a 42% diversion landfill rate due to compost and recycling efforts this past year. The campus garden project launched in 2009 is an “on campus and off grid” sustainability effort with students involved in everything from implementing organic pest management to harvesting plants.
The school’s Division of Housing & Food Service recently held its Third Annual UT Austin Chef’s Symposium, a five-day culinary-focused training event for the 13 in-house chefs. The event emphasized extensive culinary training through demos and lectures from locally and nationally renowned chefs, along with field trips to local farms and farmer’s markets.