75 Best Colleges for Food in America for 2014

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75 Best Colleges for Food in America for 2014

If you’re a food-lover who wants to go to a college as passionate as you are, then you might want to get those transfer forms ready after you check out our picks for the 75 Best Colleges for Food in America.

Image Credit: Carleton College

75. Muhlenberg College, Allentown, PA

Muhlenberg College takes sustainability very seriously, and they’ve partnered with local Lancaster County Farm Fresh Cooperative to ensure that they are getting organic and local produce as often as they can. And with designated dining halls for kosher and dairy-free, students can rest assured that they can eat healthy and happy on campus. Not only that, but Muhlenberg has some incredible events scattered throughout the year to foster community, including the Battle of the Chefs, Weigh the Waste, Organic Bread Bowl Night, and Peanut Butter Project to name just a few.

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74. Trinity University, San Antonio, TX

What makes Trinity University so incredible is its dedication to its students’ health. In Mabee Dining Hall, you’ll find the interactive wellness wall where students can learn about a plethora of health and wellness topics. The also have a nutritionist come to the dining halls throughout the year to answer any questions students may have about healthy eating. Being in San Antonio doesn’t hurt either. Students have some of the best Mexican food at their doorstep, including student favorite Taco Taco Café.

Image Credit: Trinity University

73. Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA

Feel like watching behind-the-scenes videos about what goes on in the dining halls? At Boston College you can with the Kitchen Confidential web series. And if that isn’t enough, you can also take a virtual nutrition tour that assesses popular nutrition facts and topics, all with the intent of educating and encouraging students to lead a healthy and happy life. Boston College also does a Featured Chef Series to expose students to delicious meals made by professionals. Clearly Boston College knows how to please its students.

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72. Grinnell College, Grinnell, IA

No matter what your dietary preferences, Grinnell is sure to have something that you’re going to want to eat. The dining services offer vegetarian, vegan, kosher, gluten-free, and even halal specials. On top of that, Grinnell knows the importance of sustainability and is committed to purchasing local produce. They also received an outstanding grade in Food and Recycling, so you know they mean business. The absolute coolest part of Grinnell’s dining services, though, is their Culinary Intern Program, which gives students the opportunity to have hands-on experience in the dining halls.

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71. University of California — Irvine, Irvine, CA

In 2010, UC Irvine established the first zero waste dining facility in the UC system, which is massively impressive. All three of the college’s dining halls are completely zero waste because everything gets converted into energy to power a local water facility. As for the students, UC Irvine treats them well. They often host popular local food trucks at campus festivals, and student favorite, Spam musubi, is served at all the dining halls. Eating at UC Irvine is certainly never boring with events like Mediterranean Night and the Lunar Festival.

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70. California Baptist University, Riverside, CA

CBU’s “Composed Plate Program” uses small, tapas-like plates to reduce waste and encourage smaller portions, while still allowing students the option of an all-you-care-to-eat dining hall. On top of that, they have events like Dr. Seuss Night, S’mores Night, and Grill Wars. But CBU isn’t satisfied with staying the same, and the dining services is always growing and improving. This fall, the college is opening two new dining venues for greater options and easier accessibility.

Image Credit: California Baptist University

69. Carleton College, Northfield, MN

Just because Carleton College is small doesn’t mean you should underestimate its dining program at all. Boneless pork chops with roasted red potatoes steamed cauliflower, caramelized red onions, and warm cinnamon apple sauce; eggplant Parmesan with roasted red pepper polenta fries; and roasted butternut squash soup with wilted kale are just a few of the drool-worthy options on the menu at Carleton. And if you ever have any questions about food and health, you can dine with the dietician. Other awesome things going on at Carleton include a Star Wars dinner called “May the 4th Be With You,” Mardi Gras Celebration, and Farm Bike Tour.

Image Credit: Carleton College

68. Elon University, Elon, NC

Elon may not have a lot around it in the way of food, but it makes up for it by having an outstanding dining program on campus. It hosts Local Lunches and highlights each farm that produce came from. There’s also a registered dietician on campus that’s available to consult students on any and all health concerns. Elon also keeps one of their dining halls open on the weekends until 3 a.m., and the Killer Cookie, a doughy, fudge-y, chocolate-y baked good, is an iconic on-campus munchie for students.

Image Credit: Elon University

67. Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA

Dickinson College’s dining service is completely tray-less, and it composts 100 percent of its consumer and production waste. They are always trying to improve on sustainability by increasing the seasonality of the menus and including healthier vending options. Dickinson keeps its students updated on healthy eating tips online, and the on-campus farm hosts cooking and food preservation classes. On top of all that, Dickinson has some delicious options around campus that students are crazy for, including the pizza at Miseno’s, the homemade frozen custard at Massey’s, and the homemade ice cream at Leo’s, which was named one of the nation’s best ice cream shops by TripAdvisor.

Image Credit: Dickinson College

66. Carroll University, Waukesha, WI

All the meals at Carroll University are made fresh, in-house, from scratch, and never ever frozen, so students always have the freshest options. And we guarantee you will never be bored with Carroll’s events, especially since they’ve hosted awesome options like the Halloween Zombie Attack dinner and chef-hosted tastings. As for sustainability, Carroll University has partnered with Greener Fields Together, which uses a seed-to-fork approach to engage students and provide them with fresh, environmentally sound produce.

Image Credit: Carroll University

65. California State University, Chico, Chico, CA

Cal State, Chico is always looking to engage their students in the culinary experience. A student recipe contest gave students a chance to see their food featured in dining halls, while events like National Eggs Benedict Day and Black History Month Soul Food Night gives students an opportunity to create community. Cal State, Chico offers several student intern positions for sustainability initiatives, conducts compost workshops, and educates its students on the importance of environmental consciousness. Sutter Hall, the main dining venue on campus, has received LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold Certification by the US Green Building Council.

Image Credit: California State University Chico

64. College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, VA

William & Mary wants its students to be completely satisfied and in the loop 100 percent of the time, so it uses a dining blog for updates on all things dining. Realizing that there were a growing number of students with dietary restrictions, W&M created “Outside of the Box,” which is designed to give students with severe allergies or dietary restrictions the best meals possible. There are 10 dining facilities on campus for roughly 8,200 students, so there are always plenty of options.

Image Credit: Stephen Salpukas

63. Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX

Being in Dallas definitely doesn’t hurt SMU’s greatness when it comes to food. Students can get delicious food all around campus anytime they want, including access to various local farmers markets and a Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s for all their grocery needs. On campus, SMU’s dining program invented “Mustang Bread,” a beer bread made fresh daily and a student favorite. Dining services bases menus on the seasonality and sustainability of the ingredients, and every Earth Day, SMU hosts a Weigh the Waste event that teaches students the impact of food waste. Other fun events include State Fair Night, Fry the Frogs (a sports rivalry-fueled event), and Taste of the Mediterranean.

Image Credit: Southern Methodist University

62. Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL

With menu options like balsamic roasted pork loin, vegetable and mushroom pot pie, and ham and macaroni pizza, who wouldn’t want to eat at Wheaton College? And the menu isn’t the only thing setting this college apart from the rest. Wheaton’s dining services are completely dedicated to offering their students the freshest, most sustainable options as often as they can. More than 20 percent of the ingredients used in the dining halls are purchased from local vendors. Transparency is also very important to Wheaton, which is why they use visible grills and woks so students know exactly how their food is being prepared.

Image Credit: Bon Appetit

61. Saint Anselm College, Manchester, NH

Saint Anselm is another small college striving for greatness in its dining program. There are three dining halls on campus that are all home to food prepared in-house by renowned chefs. Notable menu items include broiled swordfish steak, gnocchi with summer vegetables, and risotto cakes with roasted tomatoes and arugula. Davison Hall, the main dining facility on campus, has 11 different stations to accommodate pretty much any dietary preference you could think of. On top of all that, the dining halls are beautiful and spacious, so eating at Saint Anselm is an enjoyable experience all around.

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60. University of Washington, Seattle, WA

The University of Washington is in Seattle, which means that students have access to some pretty amazing restaurants right at their doorstep. But they definitely don’t need to wander off campus for incredible food. The UW farm grows fresh produce right on campus and dining services sells what they harvest at the District Market. And that isn’t the only move UW is making towards sustainability — students are all encouraged to eat locally and limit waste. An extra bonus is the fact that there are 15 locations on campus, including two incredible food trucks, so delicious food is always close by.

Image Credit: Flickr/Curtis Cronn

59. The New School, Manhattan, NY

The New School doesn’t have a traditional dining program. Instead of large dining halls, it has two café-type dining venues that serve hot and grab-and-go options for students. But just because there are only two cafes, doesn’t stop The New School from making every effort for sustainability that they can. They have taken the Real Food Challenge and are making incredible strides towards better practices. The New School has also partnered with My Fitness Pal, a nutrition-tracking mobile app, so students can keep track of their nutrition. But what really set The New School apart was its amazing Yelp ratings. Students have access to more bars and restaurants with some of the highest ratings in the nation than at any other school on this list.

Image Credit: The New School

58. Colby College, Waterville, ME

The menu options at Colby College are enough to make your mouth water. BLT pizza, jasmine rice and red beans, meatball flatbread sandwich, and hash brown quiche are just a few of the selections, but we think you get the picture. Colby College also has a few iconic foods surrounding its campus, like Big G’s Deli, where the sandwiches are bigger than your head. And if all that isn’t enough to entice you, Colby College is serious when it comes to sustainability. It sources its produce locally, sends pre- and post-consumer waste to a composting facility, and sends produce from the student-run garden to local food pantries, as well as using what they harvest in the dining hall.

Image Credit: Colby College

57. University of Delaware, Newark, DE

University of Delaware is completely committed to the idea that healthy food can also be delicious food, and they prove it every day. Through Healthy for Life, students can learn how to maintain a healthy diet and create well-balanced plates each and every day. UDel’s dining services help students along by serving delicious and healthful options like homemade butternut squash and apple soup, black and white sesame chicken, and herb-crusted flounder. All the nutritional information is also available online, and with 15 eateries on campus, you know you’ll never go hungry.

Image Credit: University of Delaware

56. Stanford University, Stanford, CA

Stanford aims to make the dining experience as educational, sustainable, and communal as possible. The college hires students to act as dining ambassadors, which means they work with the community both on and surrounding the campus to promote wellness, sustainability, and healthy eating. Students and community members get exposure to organic gardens and an educational farm, and the farm stand on campus sells seasonal produce. But that’s not all that’s incredible at Stanford. Menu items include cabbage and jicama salad with bacon-cilantro dressing and rotisserie chicken with mango mole sauce.

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55. Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, PA

Gettysburg knows that fun is what makes a great dining program. Their themed dinners, like Thanksgiving, are a hit among students, and the college has an on-campus food truck three nights a week for late night dining. But it’s not all fun and games, especially when it comes to health and sustainability. Gettysburg buys fresh produce, freshly caught seafood, and cooks their meals from scratch in small batches. At Gettysburg, it’s all about making students feel at home and happy.

Image Credit: Gettysburg College

54. Tufts University, Medford, MA

Students will never go hungry at Tufts with menu options like fresh mozzarella ovallini, old-fashioned rolled oats, and a roast beef sandwich complete with smoky bistro sauce. On top of that, the efforts made towards sustainability are impressive at Tufts. The college’s motto is Think Global but Buy Local, and it certainly lives up to it. The fall farmers market gives students a chance to purchase local and fresh produce right on campus. Tufts dining services also only serves 100 percent cage-free eggs and sustainable fish, like wild salmon and tilapia. Tufts really accommodates its students needs while still keeping the needs of the planet at the forefront.

Image Credit: Kelvin Ma/Tufts University

53. University of California — Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA

The Health and Wellness center at UCSB provides 4-week training programs to students who are interested to educate them on healthy living. The program teaches students about positive body image, staying healthy during times of stress, how to properly read food labels, how to shop healthier on a budget, and so much more. Every quarter, UCSB’s dining services has a Green Chef Competition to educate students on sustainability as well as entertain. The dining services also make sure that their food reflects that sustainable mindset. Locally grown produce makes up 50 percent of that which is served in the dining halls, and 25 percent of that is organically grown without the use of pesticides.

Image Credit: UC Santa Barbara

52. Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA

Bryn Mawr’s menu options are beyond amazing. Each semester has dozens of themed dining events like the Milkshake Mania, complete with a make-your-own milkshake option, and the French Peasants lunch, which served assorted cheeses, breads, and grapes. But those are just the options for special occasions. On a daily basis, students can get food like chocolate chip pancakes, Tex-Mex eggrolls, white bean stuffed peppers, and baked flounder with braised mushrooms. Going to Bryn Mawr is just like eating at a fine dining restaurant. We wouldn’t mind eating there for a day or two.

Image Credit: Bryn Mawr College

51. Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH

If you’re going to Xavier University, then you have to check out Ryan’s Pub. It’s the on-campus hotspot for all students, and was just recently renovated with 14 high-definition televisions perfect for watching every sporting event you could possibly imagine. Freshness and health are very important to Xavier. By using an eco-container program for take-out orders at the dining halls, over 40,000 styrofoam containers have been eliminated, and 90 percent of the food made at Xavier is made to order to ensure ultimate quality. Students with allergies and special dietary restrictions can speak directly to the chef to come up with options suitable to their needs. Events are held throughout the year and include Eat Local Lunch, Cereal Day, and Different Foods, Different Faiths. Xavier strives to make sure that their students are having fun, staying healthy, and being environmentally responsible.

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50. Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT

Middlebury’s mission when it comes to dining service is to “nourish and nurture today and tomorrow, sustaining mind, body, and earth.” They live up to that motto by serving healthful and delicious options like quinoa stuffed peppers, marinated Italian chicken thighs, and lamb scaloppini. And Middlebury makes sure that the food it serves is sustainable and comes from good sources. The dining services buys exclusively from local vendors and tries to educate their students on sustainable efforts that they can make when it comes to food.

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49. Saint Lawrence University, Canton, NY

Even though sustainability and health are important to Saint Lawrence, they also focus on exactly what it is the students want. With that in mind, they created the “Recipes from Home” program, and it’s being going strong since 1987. The program encourages students to share family recipes to be served in the dining halls. Themed events throughout the year are a hit with students, like the Canadian Thanksgiving feast. And don’t worry. Saint Lawrence realizes that every once in a while students just need something greasy and comforting, which is why the on-campus pub serves delicious fried snacks like mac and cheese bites and onion rings.

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48. Brigham Young University, Provo, UT

Less waste goes to landfills from BYU dining services than any other school with a dining program of a comparable size. That’s a pretty great achievement, and that’s not all that sets Brigham Young apart. The Creamery on Ninth East (CONE) is a full-service grocery store on-campus, the first of its kind in all of America. Even with all these achievements, BYU isn’t about to settle. Every Thursday an on-campus farmer’s market sells the freshest produce to students, and dining services educates students on everything from nutrition to cooking tips in MIX, the newsletter.

Image Credit: Flickr/Ellen Forsyth

47. Roger Williams University, Bristol, RI

Roger Williams’ dining services are run by Bon Appétit Management, which means that the school is committed to sustainable practices and healthy eating. Roger Williams participates in the Eat Local Challenge and Low Carbon Diet Day, and it also made all carryout containers compostable, and uses only cage-free eggs and humanely raised beef. The taste and quality of the food is also at the forefront of Roger Williams’ mind, which is why menu items include vegetable and egg fried rice, chicken scaloppini with lemon butter sauce, and penne with Italian sausage and marinara. With options like those, you’ll be excited to eat on campus every day.Im

Image Credit: Roger Williams

46. Harvey Mudd College, Claremont, CA

The dining services at Harvey Mudd College have partnered with My Fitness Pal to ensure that the students can always track the nutrition of every food served on campus. The dining halls on campus are also completely trayless and only reusable cups and to-go containers are used, so the health of the planet is just as important as the health of the students. A popular event at Harvey Mudd is the Copper Chef Competition, where students from the different residence halls can form teams and compete Iron Chef-style. Some Crust bakery, which has been open since 1916, is 100 percent family-run, and is a local hotspot for students.

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45. College of the Atlantic, Bar Harbor, ME

The meat served at COA’s dining halls is humanely raised and all the seafood is sustainably sourced, which is enough to make us see hearts. But there’s so much more going on at the College of the Atlantic that makes it truly stand out. The main dining hall, known as Take a Break, or TAB, serves dishes like shrimp cakes with grilled Portobello mushrooms, Thai red and green curry with beef and rice, and roasted vegetable and black bean burritos. And the delicious, healthy food doesn’t stop there. Students can find healthy vending machines in the Sea Urchin Café, which sells sandwiches, soups, cookies, yogurt and fruit.

Image Credit: Courtesy of College of the Atlantic

44. University of Houston, Houston, TX

There are more than 30 dining locations on University of Houston’s campus, including Cougar Woods, a nut-free facility for students with severe allergies. Basically whatever you want, you can get at U of Houston. The dining services at University of Houston participates in Meatless Mondays to encourage healthy and sustainable eating among its students, and the college’s six-part interactive cooking series, “What’s Cooking, Coogs,” gives students a chance to learn more about how to cook well and eat well. Students also have access to some delicious food surrounding campus, including Texas favorites BBQ, Tex-Mex, and fried chicken.

Image Credit: University of Houston

43. Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

Everyone knows that Princeton is one of the best colleges in the country academically, but the dining services there are incredibly impressive, too. The dining halls throw dozens of themed meals and events throughout the year and the everyday menu is just as impressive as the special events spreads. Menu items have included mushroom and spinach quesadillas, pesto pork chops, and panzanella salad, so obviously Princeton is out to impress. Princeton dining also offers a Lunch-to-Go program, which lets students order their lunches in bags and take them out. And all this is small stuff compared to the Visiting Chefs Program, which features a recreation of a chef’s restaurant menu, served buffet style.

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42. University of California — Davis, Davis, CA

If there’s anything wrong with UC Davis’ dining program, then we couldn’t find it. To start off, dining hall fare includes dishes like falafel lentil cakes, mandarin chicken salad, and white chocolate raspberry scones. But if you don’t like those options, you could participate in “Take a Taste,” an event that lets students sample and critique certain dishes, or you could download the mobile dining app, which students can use to communicate directly with dining services. Theme nights at UC Davis include a Harry Potter dinner, a fondue night, and a sushi night. And sustainability is very important to UC Davis. The Field-to-Table program teaches students and the community about healthy living, both with the environment and with our bodies.

Image Credit: UC Davis

41. Brown University, Providence, RI

Brown doesn’t take sustainability lightly. The dining services partners with local farms to ensure that students get the freshest and most environmentally sound ingredients possible. The college also uses reusable to-go containers and encourages students to compost their waste. During the fall, there’s a weekly farmers market where students can go to find fresh produce. There are 11 eateries on campus, and menu items include anything from vegan paella to cheese tortellini to Italian meatballs. Brown also makes sure that each and every student gets exactly what they want with vegan and vegetarian options offered at every location on campus.

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40. University of Richmond, Richmond, VA

The chefs at University of Richmond maintain two farms on campus that contribute fresh herbs to the dining halls, and that’s not the only impressive effort towards sustainability going on. A registered dietician runs the Live Well, Dine Green sustainability program, which educates students on the importance of their health and the health of the planet. There’s only one dining hall on campus at Richmond, but if students are unsatisfied with the buffet-style eatery, then they can visit The Cellar, a popular dining hangout, or go to Tyler’s for a fast to-go option like a pesto turkey burger. Students can also add extra meal swipes to their meal plan in case they want to dine with professors or advisors.

Image Credit: University of Richmond

39. Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT

Wesleyan was named the number one vegan program by PETA for the 2012-2013 school year, which is impressive in and of itself. But when you look at menu options, such as tandoori chicken with basmati rice and stewed chickpeas, and apple dessert pizza topped with sweetened cream, you really start to realize how amazing the dining program at Wesleyan is. Events on the Wesleyan campus include themed holiday dinners and a biweekly Chef’s Table, a discussion panel that discusses current and future goals for the dining program. Chef’s Table serves fresh ingredients for sampling and offers a cooking course to educate students about sustainable culinary practices.I

Image Credit: Oliva Drake/Wesleyan University

38. Bates College, Lewiston, ME

Bates is home to a 3-Star Certified Green Restaurant, and the dining services uses reusable dining ware at all outside events. Clearly, Bates is thinking sustainably. But they also make sure to serve some of the most delicious menu options we’ve seen, like gluten-free baked tilapia, tofu and vegetable cacciatore, chipotle-rubbed beef, grilled ginger tuna, and grilled polenta with roasted vegetables. And if that isn’t enough to entice you, the events they hold definitely will, like a Valentine’s Day Poem Concert and the annual Harvest Meal. Their dining services always wants to hear feedback and is constantly working to improve, which is why Bates give students a chance to make their voices hear with the virtual napkin board.

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37. University of Chicago, Chicago, IL

The University of Chicago isn’t content with their dining program staying the same, which is why they use the “mystery diner” program, which allows students, faculty, and professors to give feedback. The Campus Advisory Board also convenes twice a semester to discuss issues and figure out what is working and what needs improvement. While it seeks to constantly improve itself, University of Chicago’s dining service is already pretty impressive. There are three residential dining halls, ten cafés, and two markets, both of which are open until 3 a.m. for all the night owls on campus. Menu options range from ancho chipotle chicken stew to fried pollock in Creole sauce. University of Chicago has it all when it comes to dining.

Image Credit: Jason Smith/University of Chicago

36. University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT

One of University of Connecticut’s goals is to have all of its dining facilities green certified, and they are well on their way to achieving that goal with one dining hall being certified this past year. UConn also participates in numerous sustainability initiatives, such as U-Recycle, Slow Food at UConn, and the Earth Day Spring Fling. The dining services also runs a Farm Fresh Market, where most of the food is sourced locally from the two student-run gardens. And even though UConn is a big school, that doesn’t mean it shirks its responsibility to provide an incredible dining experience to its students. Huge themed feasts include the Scooby Doo Halloween dinner, a New England clambake, and a s’mores bar. The dining services’ YouTube channel also offers cooking demos for students interested in learning more about food and how to prepare it.

Image Credit: University of Connecticut

35. Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA

Sustainability at Virginia Tech is no joke. The Farms and Fields project provides local and organic meals, including apple chutney and Cheddar panini made with local cheese, and locally made, organic bread. The on-campus garden is visited often by the community, and VT’s Meat Science Center serves meat that is produced and processed right on campus. And VT is just as concerned about its students’ health as it is about the health of the planet. The Y.E.S (You’re Eating (and Living) Smarter) Program guarantees that students know everything there is to know about eating healthy and living sustainably. Fostering community is also very important at VT, and faculty-student dining days and backyard barbecues give students a chance to interact with their professors outside of the classroom.

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34. Connecticut College, New London, CT

The area surrounding Connecticut College has a solid overall Yelp rating, which means that the food surrounding campus is easy to access and delicious. But what really made Connecticut College stand out was everything they are doing on campus. New England clam chowder, teriyaki pork tenderloins, vegetable lasagna, and white cheese broccoli pizza are just a few of the mouth-watering options on the menu, but that’s not all — each semester is packed with themed dining events like the Happy Halloween Celebration, international dinners, and the Festivus in December. And if you’re worried about sustainability, don’t be. The on-campus garden, Sprout, is 100 percent organic, and the dining program prides itself on reducing waste by recycling and composting. Also, if you’re of legal drinking age, you should definitely hit up the Cro Bar.

Image Credit: Connecticut College

33. High Point University, High Point, NC

Several times a year, the dining services at High Point serves local lunches, which means that everything served is sourced locally. And not only is the health of the planet important to HPU, the health of its students is, too. Nutrition information is available for every item on the menu, and calorie-conscious items are always on the menu. But it’s not all serious business with HPU — this university knows how to have fun. There are eight to 12 food-focused events held every month, which means a lot of opportunities for students to interact with each other, eat amazing food, and learn about healthy eating, sustainability, and different cultures. But HPU understands that sometimes their students just want to get off campus to have some fun and eat a meal, which is why it provides shuttles to and from popular local restaurants and malls for students without cars.

Image Credit: High Point University

32. Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

The dining services at Purdue have partnered with the student-run farm, which provides local produce like fresh herbs and tomatoes. On top of that, each student is given a reusable to-go cup at the beginning of the year and using it gives them discounts at dining locations around campus. Clearly Purdue takes a great interest in supporting sustainability. And Purdue also realizes that fun is an important part of any dining experience, which is why they hold cooking demonstrations and themed meals to break the monotony of college life. But with dishes like Cajun-seasoned chicken breast and bacon corn chowder soup, we think that Purdue dining is anything but monotonous. On top of all that, you can find Harry’s Chocolate Shop, a student favorite, and Triple XXX restaurant, which was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, right near campus.

Image Credit: Purdue University

31. Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO

Orange pork stir-fry, a fresh fruit bar, and juicy barbecue are all delicious options you can find at the dining halls at Washington University. The dining services host more than five events a week like a chef competition, Dr. Seuss Night, and Low-Carbon Diet Day so eating is as fun as it is delicious on this college campus. It’s clear that Washington University is dedicated to giving their students the absolute best when it comes to food service, but that isn’t the only thing it’s dedicated to. Washington University takes dining services very, very seriously, which is why it turns wasted oil into biofuel, composts waste, and exclusively sources ingredients from local vendors. Washington University is known for its school spirit, and it’s not hard to see why with dining credentials like these.

Image Credit: Jerry Naunheim/WUSTL Photos

30. University of San Diego, San Diego, CA

If you’re going to the University of San Diego, plan on attending some truly amazing food events throughout the year, like the Applefest in the fall and the Strawberry Fest in the spring. Or you could participate in the school’s annual student cooking competition, where the winning prize is a feature in the dining halls. And just because University of SD knows how to have fun, that doesn’t mean they’re not concerned about the serious matters, like sustainability, also. The school uses a bio-digester to reduce waste and turn it into energy. In fact, University of SD was the first college campus in the country to install a bio-digester, and we think that’s pretty impressive. As for late night dining, you’re covered here too with the campus food truck, or you could go to any of the 17 off-campus locations that accept University of SD Campus Cash. And if that wasn’t enough to convince of the dining program’s greatness, then maybe the fact that there is a grocery store and deli on campus for students. Are you convinced?

Image Credit: University of San Diego

29. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

Being situated in Philadelphia definitely doesn’t hurt the University of Pennsylvania’s dining options. With one of the highest overall Yelp ratings of all colleges considered, UPenn doesn’t stop there. Buffalo hot wings, vegan chili made with local squash, onion, peppers, tomatoes, cumin, and cilantro, gnocchi with roasted vegetables, and roast beef with rosemary gravy, horseradish mashed potatoes, and honey-glazed carrots are just a few of the meals you could get on campus. And one of the ways that UPenn ensures that their food is so delicious is by making it as fresh as possible by sourcing locally and following the farm-to-fork philosophy. Students can also participate in sustainability efforts with the Green2Go program, which reduces waste by using disposable to-go containers, or they can participate in the Low Carbon Diet Day and the Eat Local Challenge.

Image Credit: Julia Wong/University of Pennsylvania

28. University of California — Berkeley, Berkeley, CA

If you’re a student at Berkeley, expect to have access to some of the best food around campus, including The Cheese Board Collective, a student favorite for pizza that makes only one type of pizza every day. But don’t worry — the food served on-campus is likely to be better than anything you can get at a restaurant, with options like blackened fried catfish, red pepper and spinach pizza, and jerk chicken sandwiches. And you can rest assured that UC Berkeley is just as dedicated to environmental stewardship as it is to its students’ taste buds. They are completely committed to the farm-to-table initiative, Chews to Reuse (a reusable to-go container project), and purchasing with only environmentally responsible practices. And if you ever have any questions about what sustainability is and what you can do to help, just read the Naked Bear, which is designed to educate and encourage students to live with the planet’s health in mind.

Image Credit: Flickr/amiz

27. Pitzer College, Claremont, CA

Pitzer College only uses reusable to-go containers to reduce waste, purchases from local vendors, and develops menus to focus on seasonal items that can be purchases locally. Clearly the dining services is dedicated to environmental stewardship. The college also participates in Low Carbon Diet Day and the Eat Local Challenge to educate students on everything to do with sustainability. And students are happy to eat here, with menu options like heirloom tomato salad, chicken Marsala, barbecue baby back rips, and grilled polenta in a white bean and tomato ragù, and when they aren’t eating delicious everyday food, they are participating in exciting theme nights, like Mongolian Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, Wild Card Wednesdays, Steak Night Thursdays, and Farm-to-Fork Friday. Of course, if you’re ever looking to get off campus, you could use your dining plan at any of the Claremont Colleges, or use your Flex dollars at various locations around campus.

Image Credit: Pitzer College

26. University of Massachusetts — Amherst, Amherst, MA

You will never be bored eating at UMass Amherst. Events throughout the year include Local Chicken Dinner Day, Flavours of Canada, Pistachio Day, and Spring Dinner, and menu options range from Irish coffee bread pudding with Kahlua sauce to chicken breast schnitzel with chipotle salsa. Think you’ve seen it all when it comes to nutrition and environmental consciousness? Think again, because UMass Amherst stands far above the pack with the UMass Permaculture initiative, which uses on-campus gardens to educate students on sustainability and health. And those aren’t the only steps taken towards sustainability. UMass Amherst purchases at least 20 percent of its food locally and fair-traded, participates in a composting program, and supports a student-run farmers market on campus. And there will always be somewhere to eat, with one dining hall open as late as 4 a.m., and Baby Berk, the on-campus burger and taco truck.

Image Credit: UMass Amherst

25. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

Dining at MIT is all about health and flavor, which is why the menu features items like squash ratatouille with quinoa, eggplant stuffed with herbed tofu, fish tacos with chipotle sauce, lime coleslaw and black beans over rice, and truffled roast beef with buttered leeks. Honestly, it sounds like eating at MIT is more like eating at a five-star restaurant than a college. The Farm-to-Fork program is one of the reasons why the food is so fresh and delicious and dining services has dedicated itself to offering whole-grain options, encouraging protein consumption, and reducing sodium. Professional nutrition counseling is also available for students who want advice on portion control and general healthy eating. And if that wasn’t enough, the kitchens, cafés, and loading docks all offer online virtual tours so students can keep an eye on what’s going on behind the scenes.

Image Credit: Jessica Bolandrina

24. St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN

Just because St. Olaf is a small, liberal arts college doesn’t mean it cuts corners in the food department. In fact, with menu options like sage-crusted turkey with rustic raisin stuffing, beef- and rice-stuffed peppers, and chicken Florentine with penne pasta, artichokes, spinach, crimini mushrooms, tomatoes, and feta cheese, we’d say that the dining services goes above and beyond what’s expected of a college dining experience. And the food isn’t the only thing that impresses us about St. Olaf. Their commitment to sustainability is obvious. The college purchases 23.5 percent of its food from farm to fork vendors, and all seafood purchased falls under the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Guidelines. At least twice a month, the dining services throw a food-focused event, like theme meals and the Eat Local Challenge. Even outsiders can dine at St. Olaf, so I guess we’ll be seeing you there!

Image Credit: St. Olaf College

23. Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

If you’re at Harvard University, then you have to check out the grilled chicken sandwich at Crema Café. It’s a student favorite, and will probably become one of yours too. But trust us, you do not need to go off campus for amazing food at Harvard. The dining events on campus include Top Chef Harvard, Brain Breaks during finals, and monthly barbecues, so you’ll never be bored or hungry. And if you’re interested in studying food as part of your academic career, then you can take Harvard’s courses in food writing and food history, or just read the Food Literacy Project Newsletter, which focuses on food events both on and off campus, available cooking classes, and local food job listings. And even though Harvard needs to cater to approximately 21,000 students, the 13 dining halls, kosher kitchen, and 14 retail locations does a pretty good job of doing just that. But Harvard knows that constructive criticism is the key to really pleasing its students, which is why you can always take any questions, concerns, or complaints directly to the dining staff.

Image Credit: Harvard

22. Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ

Pretty much any food your heart desires you can get at ASU, including Peking-style rotisserie chicken, chicken-fried beef steak with gravy, loaded potato pizza, and crispy breaded pork cutlet. And that’s just in the dining hall. Themed events on campus range from a barbecue bash to a create-your-own-nachos night. And even though ASU is dedicated to giving their students delicious food, they are also dedicated to environmental stewardship, which is why it purchases fair trade and rain forest alliance coffees, and creates a zero waste stream by using reusable containers, and using recycling and composting.

Image Credit: Arizona State

21. Rollins College, Winter Park, FL

At Rollins College, students’ health is the name of the dining game. The college educates students about eating and living healthily with opportunities such as meeting the dietician, cooking classes with the executive chef, and the mindful eating program. And the health of the planet is just as important. Rollins College exclusively purchases ingredients from certified vendors with sustainable distribution practices. And just because Rollins’ dining services are operated by major food management company Sodexo, doesn’t mean that the food they serve isn’t as creative and delicious as a smaller college. Menu options at Rollins include diver scallops, ginger tofu stir-fry, shrimp Portofino, and chipotle chicken Veracruz. With five dining halls on campus, and a newly opened café serving Starbucks coffee, it isn’t hard to find what you want to eat when on campus.

Image Credit: Scott Cook/Rollins College

20. Yale University, New Haven, CT

Yale is already recognized as being one of the best colleges academically, but their dining services stand above the rest as well. On the menu you can find roasted pork chops, beer-battered fish and chips, and vegan ravioli — and if you’re not feeling those options, than you can attend one of the countless events on campus. Yale’s dining services throws everything from themed meals to a Welcome Back Dinner to the Uncommon Produce Market. And if you’re interested in learning more about mixology, etiquette, and wine pairings, then check out the school’s dining series, “Reality Bites.” Students always have access to the most up-to-date information about what’s going on with the dining services through the mobile app, website, and the D.I.S.H, a dining newsletter. And don’t think that the dining services are just having fun. They are seriously committed to sustainability as well. Their Sustainable Food Project, which was created by Alice Waters and her daughter, manages two on-campus farms, and students can take part in initiatives such as Local 2 Yale and Erase the Waste. It’s no wonder so many people want to go to Yale.

Image Credit: Michael Marsland/Yale University

19. University of California — San Diego, San Diego, CA

The area surrounding UCSD is rich with killer restaurants and bars, but you definitely don’t need to venture off campus to get some delicious meals. The chefs at UCSD are professionally trained by award-winning culinary schools, and the dining services have won a whole bunch of awards for food quality and taste. Embracing the Mexican heritage of the area, UCSD has an on-campus food truck called Torero Tu Go, which serves savory dishes like chicken skewers and skirt steak tacos. And if that wasn’t enough, dining services throws all kinds of events for students, including themed food fairs and the annual Chocolate Festival, complete with chocolate fountains and delicious dippers. But don’t worry, UCSD hasn’t forgotten about sustainability. The school offers Eco Tours for students and member of the community. The tours highlight the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-rated buildings on campus, solar water heating, hydration stations, and water efficient landscaping, among other things, and are meant to educate students about the importance of living sustainably.

Image Credit: University of California

18. Miami University, Oxford, OH

Miami University boasts multiple, conveniently located dining locations all around campus, including two 24/7 locations, a ‘50s-style diner in the student union, and a convenience store selling snacks and standard groceries. And if you’re eating on campus, you can always find out the nutrition information for every meal. The online menu allows students to view nutrition information, and MiamiU constantly updates its social media sites with tips on healthy living, weight management, helpful nutrition resources, or just fun facts to brighten the students’ days. Speaking of brightening days, the dining services also throws fun events for the whole student body, including themed meals, like Cultivating Community, and an annual Farm-to-Fork dinner held on-site at a local farm. And if that isn’t enough for you, then rest assured that MiamiU is constantly improving. All of the dining operations on campus are set to be fully remodeled by 2018.

Image Credit: Miami University

17. University of Georgia, Athens, GA

The food services at the University of Georgia have teamed up with Georgia Grown, a local-minded brand that focuses on providing the freshest and most sustainable options available. On top of that, 100 percent of the food waste that comes from the dining halls is broken down and sent to a bioconversion center. The waste is then composted and reused on campus. We’d say that all that is impressive enough, but University of Georgia doesn’t stop there. Themed events on campus include holiday-centered fun, like Valentine’s Cupcake Decorating, to larger events meant to educate students on different cuisines, and mostly to have fun. And if you’re feeling hunger pangs late at night, Snelling Dining Commons is open 24 hours, and a popular tradition for students is “Late Night Snelling,” or, more commonly known as, “Snellebrating.” And improvement is definitely on the mind at University of Georgia. The new Bolton Dining Commons will have interactive cooking platforms, and have options like breakfast all day, regional and international cuisine, and hand-spun milkshakes. We can’t wait to visit.

Image Credit: University of Georgia

16. James Madison University, Harrisburg, VA

James Madison University definitely knows the importance of fun, which is why they throw events like Madipalooza, an outdoor spring festival, Farm-to-Fork dinners, and the annual Farmer’s Markets, held four times throughout the fall. And even though the food in the dining halls is delicious, students also have access to multiple national chains, like Quiznos, Starbucks, and Red Mango, right on campus. As far as sustainability goes, JMU is making huge strides toward becoming as environmentally sound as possible. More than 370 tons of waste were recycled and composted last school year alone, which contributed to the impressive 2,000 tons that have been composted since 2010. JMU is aware of how important fostering the community is too, which is why the dining services partnered with Food Donation Connection’s Harvest Program to donate more than 12,000 pounds of food to those who need it in the area. And if those numbers weren’t enough to dazzle you, just know that approximately 20 percent of all dining services’ purchases are local.

Image Credit: Flickr/Peter Imon

15. Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

Vanderbilt gives its students an opportunity to experience and take part in the Taste of Nashville, where students can eat at participating restaurants for a meal swipe. But we’re not sure why you’d ever want to go off-campus for a meal. Menu options at Vanderbilt include chili-rubbed tilapia with asparagus, grilled mustard chicken with polenta, red lentils with kale and miso, braised short ribs with collard greens and candied sweet potatoes, chicken-fried steak with white gravy and green peas, and roasted salmon with sweet chipotle glaze. Hungry yet? And luckily Vanderbilt knows that college students are under a lot of stress and almost always ravenous, which is why four of the dining locations on campus are open 24 hours a day, including the central dining hall. And if that wasn’t enough to tickle your fancy, just take a look at the Dining Advisory Committee, a group of students, university staff, and dining staff dedicated to addressing every aspect of the dining program in order to improve sustainability efforts.

Image Credit: Vanderbilt University

14. Mills College, Oakland, CA

Mills is completely dedicated to sustainability. The dining services use local ingredients as much as possible and cook in small batches to reduce waste and maintain freshness. On top of that, vegetarian and vegan options are served at every meal and no nuts are used in any of the food in order to ensure that those with allergies can eat safely. And Mills certainly knows how to throw a party, with themed events like the Latina Heritage Dinner, several all-campus picnics each year, chef wars, and a meal centered around the produce harvested from the campus farm. Students can also relax and enjoy food from the Tea Shop, a campus hot spot, or venture off campus to the Bay Area of California, which is known as a veritable food Mecca.I

Image Credit: Mills College

13. University of California — Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA

UCLA takes the health of its students very, very seriously. The Student Nutrition Awareness Campaign (SNAC) and the Here’s to Health initiative both provide students with information and facts about healthy living and eating. And if students still have questions, then they can always speak with the registered dietician on campus, who is always happy to tend to any concerns the students may have. UCLA also has a serious commitment to sustainability, and received an award from PETA for the most vegan-friendly campus. Mouthwatering offerings on-campus include seafood pizza, chicken and dumplings, and chicken chili verde. And if you’re going to wander off-campus for a meal, then wander to Fat Sal’s Deli, known for its monstrous and creative offerings, or Diddy Riese, which serves customizable ice cream sandwiches.

Image Credit: UCLA

12. Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

The dining services at Cornell University have increased the amount of locally and regionally grown and produce ingredients to 22 percent of all food purchased, and the dining halls have implemented tray-less dining to prevent further waste. And no matter what your dietary preference, you can find it at Cornell because the dining services pay attention to every dietary preference and restriction, offering options for vegans, vegetarians, gluten-free, kosher, Halal, Muslim, and Seventh Day Adventists. All that is pretty impressive, but not nearly as impressive as the events that are held throughout the year. Nutritionland, Peanut Butter month, A Night at Hogwarts, Baseball Night, and Chinese New Year are just a few of the possibilities. On top of that, New York Times columnist Mark Bittman stopped by campus to talk about his book, and the National Association of College and University Food Services throws an annual chef competition. But probably one of the coolest things is The Cornell Dairy Bar, which serves milk, yogurt, pudding, and cheese all made from Cornell’s own dairy. Perhaps the fact that Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration is rated the 1 hospitality school in the nation is why the food program here is so good. The school clearly knows a thing or two about treating people.

Image Credit: Cornell

11. Emory University, Atlanta, GA

The extensive list of events held at Emory, including Melon Mania, Heirloom Tomato Festival, and Mardi Gras Celebration, had us at hello, but there’s so much more going on. The kitchen serves truly impressive dishes like a toasted grilled vegetable and balsamic panini, but it seems that the salad bar is the healthy student favorite, which cannot be said for most colleges. And although Emory is dedicated to promoting health with their Healthy Eating Partners Program, they also realize that every once in a while, simple comfort food is all that the students need. That’s why students have access to national chains like Chick-fil-A and Starbucks on campus. The student-run advisory committee runs the show at the dining halls, making sure that everything is suiting the students’ needs and going through complaints.Im

Image Credit: Emory Photo/Video

10. Boston University, Boston, MA

One of the coolest things about Boston University is the fact that it has an on-campus bar/restaurant for all its 21-plus students known as the BU Pub, and of course, it’s a student favorite. But for all the underage students, delicious food is still available, with menu options like BBQ chicken and caramelized onion pizza, stuffed shells, Rhode Island-style clam fritters, and polenta with broccoli rabe. You can find all that delicious food and more at their main dining facility, which features two massive levels and has the capacity to hold 900 people. And don’t ever think that dining at BU is boring, because it is anything but. Special events include Oktoberfest and Lobster Night, and you can learn about any upcoming events through the dining services’ hilarious YouTube channel. BU also takes as careful an effort to take care of the planet as much as it does its students, with initiatives like tray-less dining, Seafood Watch guidelines, and Save that Stuff for composting.I

Image Credit: Kalman Zabarsky/Boston University Photography

9. Duke University, Durham, NC

Duke has over 30 locations on campus serving fare that sounds more suited to a fine dining restaurant than a college dining hall, such as pan-seared diver scallops with a basil pistou, carved-to-order porchetta with salsa verde, and gnocchi and sage au gratin. Don’t feel like leaving your bed all day? Don’t you worry because there are 17 locations on Duke’s campus that will deliver your meal right to your dorm. Impressed yet? Well if that hasn’t gotten you, maybe the fact that there are seven (yes, we said seven) food trucks on campus that serve anything from Greek cuisine to tacos to crêpes. Seriously, whatever you want wherever you want it, you can get it at Duke. But even all these delicious options available, you’re still going to be eating healthily. Duke Dining partnered with the on-campus nutritionist to create the Balance Your Plate program, which is designed to help students build a healthy and delicious plate of food. The Chef’s Chatter Series focuses on one healthy food item a month and how to cook, eat and enjoy that food in many different ways. Oh yeah, and Duke Dining also holds over 60 events every year, with each month featuring a large-scale event like the ever-popular Cruise Themed Dinner. Do you see anything wrong with this program? Because we don’t.

Image Credit: Duke University

8. Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA

The dining services at Occidental work with a student-led Cooking and Gardening course to educate students on good composting practices as well as proper food handling. Some of the events on campus include Food Justice Month, Public Health Week, and Earth Week, and on top of that there are a huge array of themed meals that work in tandem with student-run organizations and clubs. And let’s not forget about the Chef’s Showcase, where on-campus chef’s prepare their personal favorites, and of course, there’s Oxy Iron Chef, an in-house student culinary face-off. Clearly Occidental’s goal is to focus on community building and community learning, and we think that it is a noble goal. But it’s not just the events that impress us. Their menu sounds more like that of a five-star restaurant than the menu of a college dining program. Meals have included balsamic-glazed chicken, butternut risotto, and braised beef ribs, and if you’re not satisfied with that, you can custom order exactly what it is you want and you’ll get it. Everything in the Occidental dining locations is made entirely from scratch in small batches.

Image Credit: Flickr/Anton 572

7. New York University, New York, NY

NYU had the third-highest Yelp rating of the whole bunch of colleges we looked at, and the college definitely takes advantage of its location in the food haven that is Manhattan. With Campus Cash, students can purchase food from over 20 locations, including Potatopia, 5 Napkin Burger, and Whole Foods, as well as on-campus vendors like Starbucks and Argo Tea. But it doesn’t stop there. Student-wide events include a weekly brunch at the Palladium Dining Hall, complete with fresh omelets, muffins, and fruits, and the spring Strawberry Fest, which features NYC’s longest strawberry shortcake. Recently NYU opened a community garden where students can learn to grow, tend, and harvest fresh fruits and vegetables — and on top of that, NYU is one of the first schools to create a master’s degree program exclusively for the study of food. And if you ever have any questions about anything going on at NYU’s dining services, you can always check out The Scoop, the dining services newsletter with all the up-to-date information on menu, events, and fun facts.

Image Credit: NYU Photo Bureau/Asselin

6. University of Rochester, Rochester, NY

Ever wondered what it would be like to live in Rochester? Well according to Yelp, it would be pretty darn delicious. University of Rochester had the second-highest Yelp rating of the whole bunch, but what really catapulted it to the front of the pack was all the efforts the dining program makes to be as sustainable, delicious, and just fun as it can be. Team Green is the team of student interns employed by the dining services whose sole purpose is to promote sustainability while dining, and on top of that, over 48 percent of all the ingredients served on campus are grown, raised, or wholly manufactured within New York state. In fact, University of Rochester has been named a Most Vegan Friendly University by PETA2 for three years and counting. Campus events include Meatless Mondays, D’Lions Dinner, the Chef Challenge, and the ever-popular Local Foods Week. But if you ever go to the University of Rochester, you have to get a Garbage Plate. It may sound odd, but we assure you that is delicious. You get a choice of two sides, choosing from macaroni salad, baked beans, home fries, or French fries, and then choose either two burgers, two hot dogs (or other protein options). Now imagine all of that piled together with meaty hot sauce, onions, and mustard, and you have a Garbage Plate. And students go crazy for it.

Image Credit: J. Adam Fenster/University of Rochester

5. Northwestern University, Evanston IL

Tour of Pork, Noodlepalooza, Global Chef, Windy City Chefs, Battle of the Chefs, Street Week, and the WildCat Beach Club are just a few of the truly mind-blowing events that Northwestern University’s dining services throw. The college is dedicated to showing their students a deliciously fun time, while still dedicating itself to the important issues of sustainability and nutrition. All six dining halls are completely tray free, which reduces waste and encourages students to only take what they need each meal. The purchases of local produce has risen to approximately 20 percent and is continuing to rise consistently, and the on-campus dietitian oversees all the menus to ensure ultimate healthfulness, as well as holding quarterly Meet the Dietitian events to discuss any concerns students, faculty, and staff about healthy eating. Menu options include buffalo chicken nuggets, spinach lasagna with marinara sauce, Tuscan kale salad, and curried rice with lentils, but the off-campus options are just as impressive as the on-campus ones. Lou Malnati’s is right near campus and is known for having the quintessential Chicago deep dish pizza. But if you want to hang around campus, you could always hang out at Fran’s Late Night, a hotspot for studying and late-night dining.

Image Credit: Northwestern

4. Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA

Kennesaw’s dining services are perpetually evolving, making sure that options served are always fresh, and never boring. In fact, the menu changes so often that there are over 150 new dishes each day, and that doesn’t even include the delicious events. Black and Gold dining is an event which occurs twice a month and serves high-class offerings like steak, lobster, and king crab. Other mouth-watering events include the Cram Jam, a Jell-O-eating contest, and Get Wild, which features exotic meats like kangaroo, rattlesnake, and emu right in the main dining hall! But it doesn’t stop there. Kennesaw is one of the most committed universities to sustainability and health. The campus dietitian and the executive chef worked together to come up with Wise Choice meals which are low in sodium, low in calories, and heart healthy. As for sustainability, Kennesaw composts, reclaims rainwater, recycles, diverts more than 43,800 pounds of waste from landfills each month, and recycles cooking oil. And if you ever want to get off campus, hit up Big Pie in the Sky Pizzeria, which is a student favorite and was featured on Man vs. Food for the infamous Carnivore Challenge.

Image Credit: Kennesaw State

3. Columbia University, New York, NY

New York is the city of dreams and Columbia is making dreams come true with menu options like eggplant roulettes, Thai chili wings, chipotle potato soup, and JJ’s Philly cheesesteak. And with a menu like that, Columbia is consistently proving to their students that the dining on campus is just as good, if not better, than anything New York City has to offer. But if you really must eat somewhere else, Columbia’s dining plans let you use Flex Dollars at a slew of restaurants and grocery stores in the city, including Chipotle, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, Five Guys Burgers, and Whole Foods. And if that isn’t enough to impress, Columbia dining services have completely eliminated the use of trans fat in their cooking. Columbia also consistently donates both food and money to City Harvest, and around 52 percent of all of the food purchased comes from vendors within 250 miles of campus. The registered dietitian on campus is available both online and in-person for one-on-one consultations with students. And what about events, you may ask? Well some of the most notable and exciting events include Ice Cream and Sundaes, Sabor Latino, Food Day, National Nutrition Month, Peanut Butter and Jelly Bar, and The Food Expo. Clearly nutrition, sustainability, and community are at the forefront of Columbia’s mind.

Image Credit: Columbia

2. Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD

Johns Hopkins’ dining services boast a hotel-quality brunch, food and wine pairings for seniors, themed monotony breakers each month, and cooking classes in on-campus residences that focus on healthy eating. There are also monthly faculty and staff dinners with students to promote community building as well as weekly chef demonstrations, tastings and samplings in retail locations. Options served at the dining hall include manicotti puttanesca, house-smoked beef brisket sandwiches, Texas-style French toast, and oven-roasted meatloaf with honey carrots and steamed peas, so you will always be eating well at Johns Hopkins. Everything in the dining halls is made in small batches, from scratch, which not only gives students the freshest options available, but also reduces waste. Sustainability is very important on campus, which is why the dining services only uses compostable paper products and to-go packaging, and it composts all its food wastes and organic materials. JHU also only purchases cage-free eggs, hormone-free milk, and locally-grown produce. And if you are a student on campus craving a late night bite, C-stores on campus are open as late as 2 a.m.

Image Credit: Flickr/Knile

1. Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME

First and foremost we must congratulate Bowdoin College’s dining services because this is the second year in a row that it has snagged the number one spot on this list — and it’s not hard to see why. Menu options include mussels in butter sauce, haddock with jalapeños, squash fettuccine, and roasted root vegetables with polenta, but the menu is just one part of the whole package at Bowdoin. The dining services truly believe that the food on campus is not just for a quick meal to satiate hunger, but rather an overall experience and providing a welcoming college experience. Bowdoin purchases ingredients locally as often as possible, the on-campus meat shop uses locally raised beef for all of the ground beef used on campus, and the bakeshop roasts its own pumpkins grown right on campus in the garden for the pumpkin pies. Bowdoin always encourages its students to live a healthy, fulfilled life, which is why some of the favorite recipes are featured on the dining services website for students to try at home, and if that isn’t enough for you, you can check out the iPhone app too. Bowdoin has continued to impress us for the second year in a row when it comes to outstanding college dining experiences.

Image Credit: Bowdoin College/Copyright Michele Stapleton

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College can be tough, and we mean really tough. With tests and book lists and what seem like endless assignments, college students today have a lot of stress to deal with. Sometimes all they need at the end of a long day is a good meal, but unfortunately, they can't always get it. Let's face it: college dining halls are not typically culinary havens. Thankfully, though, there are more than a few colleges across the United States that go above and beyond when it comes to their dining services. From a college that only cooks from scratch every day to a college that lets students use their dining plan at countless off-campus restaurants, we've tracked down the 75 best colleges for food in America.

Click Here to see the Slideshow for the 75 Best Colleges for Food in America for 2014

This is our third annual list of the best colleges for food. Last year, the list was expanded from 52 colleges in 2012 to 60 colleges in 2013. For both lists, each and every one of the approximately 2,000 four-year colleges in America was considered. The first year's list focused on the cleanliness and accessibility of the dining halls along with the menu options, while the second year's list combined much of the criteria in the first list (combining healthy food and sustainability), and factored in student feedback to determine the best colleges.

For our third annual list, we've expanded our winners' circle to 75 colleges to offer even more contenders the chance to show just how much their dining programs shine. We have used much of the same criteria as last year's list, but this time around we considered the food scene of the surrounding area in our ranking. Students like to get off campus every once in a while, and if the food offered around the schools was easily accessible and highly rated, that was a contributing factor in the overall rating of colleges. We also didn't consider student feedback this year because we didn't want school pride to interfere with the ranking. We wanted our ranking to be based on quantifiable criteria that would really determine the best colleges for food without passionate students and alumni skewing the list.

We started out with a full list of around 2,000 colleges, and after rigorous research and reaching out to their dining services, we narrowed that list down to around 320 knockouts. These standout colleges were highly respected for a myriad of reasons across the country, and had dining programs that caught our attention. After that, we chose the final 75 by looking at specific efforts each college was making toward improving taste, nutrition, and community and deciding what was really exceptional. It seems that students across the country are becoming more mature in their tastes and demanding in what they expect of their college dining experience. Students want their food to taste great, to be fun, and to be sustainable, and colleges are responding.

With that in mind, here are the criteria we used to judge the 75 best colleges for food in America for 2014:

Nutrition and Sustainability: Each college on this list makes consistent efforts to ensure that their food is well-balanced, as well as tasty, and is healthy not just for the students, but for the environment as well.

Accessibility and Service: Colleges accommodate all dietary preferences, have a variety of options for students to choose from, and make sure that the dining options are conveniently located to students' dorms. Dining locations on campus that were open late night or whose meal plans let students purchase off-campus food were given special consideration.

Education and Events: Colleges offer nutrition and culinary education to every student on campus, and they also hold multiple exciting and delicious food-centered events to foster community and break the monotony of the dining experience.

Surrounding Area: Students have access to exciting and vast food options in the area surrounding the college and can access it easily. We compiled information from Yelp to find out the quality and accessibility of all the food around campuses within a 5-mile radius.

The "X" Factor: These are the little extras that made our jaws drop and set colleges ahead of the pack.

Even though the actual quality of the food was extremely important in our ranking, the overall dining experience, including the surrounding area, is what really determined which colleges made the cut and which didn't. For example, New York University's meal plan gives student the options to use their campus cash at over 20 restaurants in the food Mecca that is Manhattan. James Madison University hosts farm-to-fork dinners to encourage students to eat seasonally and sustainability. Columbia University has two late-night dining options for student night owls, and UC Davis utilizes produce grown in their campus garden for meals. Vanderbilt University has a Dining Advisory Committee, comprised of students, university staff, and dining staff, that monitors all aspects of the dining experience.

Some of the more expensive colleges had more extensive sustainability efforts, and, even though they are rated highly academically, it wasn't always the Ivy League colleges who came out on top. Smaller colleges often had a better program that could cater to each and every students need due to the low population. In general, though, students have become more and more in tune to what good food is, and the colleges that paid attention to that and designed their dining programs around that were the most impressive.

Several colleges didn't make the list this year for many reasons. Dartmouth College, which made the list last year, just fell short of the mark because although its food program is still impressive, other colleges made vast improvements that overshadowed it. Other colleges didn't offer enough variety in the events that were offered, or didn't take sustainability as seriously as others. We have really considered every aspect of the dining experience, and through that have determined the best colleges for food in America.

We've tried to highlight the most impressive and most delicious aspects for each of the colleges on this list.

Check out the slideshow above for the 75 best colleges for food in America.

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