The Daily Meal has issued its 2nd Annual list of colleges that “gave their students top-notch dining experiences.” In publishing the list, The Daily Meal’s reporter, Dana Kaufman noted that students on the whole are already passionate and knowledgeable about food when they arrive at campus, and “want to know where it’s coming from.”
The criteria for evaluating college food was clearly specified: (1) Healthy Food/ Local & Sustainable: meals made in-house from scratch as well as cooked in small batches with schools committed to teaching students the benefits of buying locally and maintaining healthy lifestyles; (2) Accessibility & Service: number of eateries on campus & hours of service; (3) Events: food centered events held on campus; (4) X Factor: something creative & unique about dining service; and (5) Student Feedback: a new factor added this year.
The top five colleges on the list of 60 were (1) Bowdoin College, Maine; (2) Washington University, St. Louis; (3) Virginia Tech; (4) Emory University, Georgia; and (5) UCLA, California. Special mention was made of Middlebury College in Vermont, #22 on the list, where 32% of the Dining Service’s annual food budget is spent locally at 50 year-long and seasonal vendors including Middlebury’s own organic farm. It was also noted that the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, #7 on the list, hosts a farmers market that’s entirely student-run. In upstate New York, Cornell University, #6 on the list, operates the laudable Manndible Cafe, worthy of listing in our New York dining directory.
The “dining services partner” of Washington University, St. Louis (#2 on the list) is Bon Appetit Management Company, which according to its website is “an onsite restaurant company that provides café and catering services to corporations, colleges and universities, and specialty venues.” The company has over 500 locations in 32 states.
The arbitrariness of ranking colleges on a list is reflected by Middlebury College’s position at only #22. In this writer’s opinion, Middlebury College’s X Factor (the fourth factor delineated above) is sky-high, with its commitment to local agriculture and its “unique” dining services vis-a-vis a dining program ranked #2, which has a “dining services partner” that has over 500 locations in 32 states. Nonetheless, kudos to all of these colleges for scoring a spot on the list.
[Frank W. Barrie, 9/19/13]