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What’s Trending on the College Campus Food Scene?

Written by CB Community

Colleges across the nation may be aiming to up the variety and health factors of the food consumed by students, but much work still needs to be done.

Research has shown, for instance, that college students do not consume the required amount of fruits and vegetables; the average young person eats just one serving of these foods per day.

The key to healthy eating is great variety, flavor, and texture.

How are colleges aiming to make food more appealing (visually and tastewise) to students young and old from across the nation?

Embracing Seasonality

UCLA is famed for having one of the top dining halls in the country. At this university, each dining hall concentrates on one culinary concept or type of cuisine.

Arguably the best known of these halls is Bruin Plate—a health-centered dining space that serves nutritious food made with seasonal, local ingredients.

This eatery has embraced the ‘slow food’ concept, which seeks to lower the carbon footprint of the culinary industry while also upping the nutritional value of college diets.

The salad bar is famed for the wide array of ingredients on offer—including farro, Swiss chard, and gold and red beans.

As a whole, many establishments are prioritizing Mediterranean-style diets that are packed with nutrients such as fiber, healthy proteins, and whole grains.

There is an important mind-gut connection, so prioritizing healthy diets can also have a positive impact on the mental health of students.

Serving the World on a Platter

Colleges that are competing for pole position in the culinary stakes are helping students build more sophisticated palates by offering them delights from across the globe.

UCLA, for instance, has Rieber—a dining hall where Asian and fusion flavors rule.

Imagine finishing your morning classes with a hungry tummy and heading to this hall for a tuna poke taco or a warm curry with a Chinese red bean bun for dessert.

Washington University in St. Louis, MO, has also built a reputation for its international dishes, which bear influences from Asian, Hispanic, and Indian traditions.

If you’re into sushi, pay a visit to the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in MA, where 4,000 sushi rolls are served to students daily!

Plant-Based Foods

If just a decade ago, most colleges simply served vegan or vegetarian options to non-omnivores, today, plant-based eating has taken center stage.

This is owing in no small part to recent research showing that high-fiber foods like fruits and vegetables have an important role to play in promoting a healthy body and mind.

Moreover, students are now more firmly focused on sustainability, and it is well known that meat accounts for nearly 60% of all greenhouse gas emissions from food production.

For instance, Dustin Cutler of Cornell University recently told the press that meat was being served as more of a side dish in current times.

Meat products still exist, and their quality is good, but there are many more plant-based items in the entrée (main meal) section.


It’s an exciting time to be in college from a culinary perspective, owing to the wide variety of foods available.

Three of the many trends that are upping the value of college meals are seasons, international, and plant-based foods.

These trends not only taste great but also ensure students have the nutrition they need to perform at their best.

About the author

CB Community

Passionate members of the College Basics community that include students, essay writers, consultants and beyond. Please note, while community content has passed our editorial guidelines, we do not endorse any product or service contained in these articles which may also include links for which College Basics is compensated.