Dining halls become a main gathering place for Northwestern students, especially freshman year, when everyone lives on campus. Luckily for us collegiettes, Northwestern’s food was recently ranked third in the country among its academic peers.
The Daily Meal, a website about “all things food and drink,” re-ranked each of U.S. News and World Reports’ 2012 top 20 national universities based “solely on their food options,” the original article reports.
In ranking, The Daily Meal compared “variety of cuisine; presence of chefs on staff; sustainability efforts; the availability of nutrition facts and ingredients information; options for those requiring kosher, halal, gluten-free, and vegan meals; food-related events; and the ability to order food online.”
Although always given lots of options for each meal, from made-to-order stir fry to a salad bar, collegiettes aren’t too sure how they feel about being number three.
Frances Fu, an 18-year-old freshman from New York, eats two or three meals in the dining hall most days. “If you’re going to rank it based on just those options, they do provide a lot of vegan food, the provided food appeals to a wide variety of people, and they do list ingredients for a lot of things they have,” Fu said. “With those aspects, we’re doing well.”
She didn’t hesitate to express her disappointment with the actual quality of the fare beyond the service. “In terms of maybe just tastiness, it shouldn’t be top three,” she said.
Freshman Amy Whyte agreed. “As far as food quality goes, I wouldn’t say it’s the best tasting food I’ve ever had, but I’m not really sure any college dining hall is.”
Although food was ranked on the availability of nutrition facts, the actual nutrition of choices was not taken into account.
“If it’s dependent on what choices you’re making, at least they give you the option to make your own choices to being healthy. Maybe all the options aren’t health, but you’re at least informed,” Whyte said.
Despite these doubts, NUCuisine, the organization partnered with Sodexo to cater our dining halls, remains committed to student wellbeing by bringing in fresh, unique, ethnic meals to students. They continue to plan to do so, Steve Mangan, managing director of Sodexo and Northwestern’s food service partnership: “I’ve been telling my team that the next five years will be taking us back to the future, as we see more local, seasonal, fresh, simpler, and tastier menus and products come back into the marketplace,” Mangan told The Daily Meal.
Love it or hate it, our dining hall fare is here to stay, especially after these rankings. Dig in, collegiettes!!