Alternatives to the College Cafeteria

Last month we told you about The Latest News and Trends for College Foodservices focusing on the ways campuses are working to provide alternatives to the usual cafeteria lines.   This month we’ll take a look at how students are taking dietary matters into their own hands and going outside the traditional food provided on campus.  With alternative kitchens, convenient delivery and even a hands on approach, students are taking it upon themselves (with a little help from outside chefs, restaurants and local farmers) to make sure they’re never caught wondering what’s for dinner.

Sorority/Fraternity Kitchens

Photo from campuscooks.com

Though students living in a Sorority or Fraternity are still located on campus, they often have the distinct advantage of living in a location with its own private kitchen.   Along with this private kitchen usually comes a cook or chef of some sort to provide those living in the house with their meals.  This chef is frequently chosen and paid for by the members of the Sorority/Fraternity.   The downside to this is that it usually also means finding the most affordable person available rather than someone that will provide the healthiest or best tasting meals.   However, one of Central’s own customers, Campus Cooks, is helping to change all of this in over fifty Sorority and Fraternity houses across the country.   Campus Cooks sets itself apart from the average campus cafeteria by providing quality food and kitchen management at a flat per person rate to ensure that students are getting the most out of what little money they have to spend.  The company takes on the responsibility of hiring on-site cooks to make fresh lunches, dinners and snacks for each house.   In order to develop these healthy and creative menus the cooks use feedback from the students living in that particular house so the food is customized their specific tastes and preferences.   This in-house option is also a great alternative for those suffering from food allergies and dietary restrictions because the cook can make meals specifically for these individual to avoid any adverse reactions.  Cooks are even trained to incorporate the newest food trends to keep the meals interesting and nutritious on a daily basis.

Online Ordering from Local Restaurants

Photo from wokwoktulsa.com

While not all students are lucky enough to have a chef cater to their specific tastes, any academic with a little extra cash has the ability to order out.   However, ordering food has never been as easy as it now is with the recently launched Deals4MealsOnline, a concept created by former college students for current college students.  

While attending Seton Hall, founder Kenneth Cucchia and his friends ran into a problem that he was sure others on campus had also encountered…they didn’t know where to order food from.  Cucchia told The Sentonian, “I was just sitting on my couch one day with my roommates, and we were trying to figure out where to go to order some cheap food.  I Google’d it and it took me forever to find a list of places to order from in South Orange (New Jersey), and that’s pretty much where the idea came from.”  This desire for take out inspired Cucchia to solve the problem for years to come by developing Deals4MealsOnline, a site that allows students to search for just about any type of food they’re craving in their area, order online and have it delivered right to their door.  And on this new one-stop food delivery site, students are the only ones to benefit.   Restaurants also reap the benefits of  having the ability to receive online orders at a more afforable price as well as the advantage of targeted advertising on the site and via social media. 

Local Food Programs

Photo from realfoodchallenge.org

Students are not only creating new ways to find meals, they are also growing, selling and cooking the food on many campuses.   Through programs like Farm to College, many students are getting the opportunity to know exactly where their food is coming from by being a part of it in every stage.   Over 150 colleges and universities participate in this program where students can participate in activities like product research, planning gardens, farming, preparing food and even coordinating the purchase and delivery of products to dining halls that are available locally, but not necessarily on-campus.   Although currently the majority of the Farm to College programs are still overseen by campus foodservices or other administrative services many of the programs were initiated by students and at least twelve of the schools programs are currently completely student run.

Photo from gazettenet.com

In addition to growing and preparing food on campus, some students are event selling it for both student and community use.  One example of this is the student-run farmer’s market at the University of Massachusetts (also a participant in the Farm to College program).   This year, three of the schools sustainable living programs joined together to put on the farmer’s market in order to raise awareness and promote farm-to-table living.   According to an article in The Massachusetts Daily Collegian, “In addition to the farmer’s market stand, the Student Farming Enterprise – a six-credit course consisting of two one-semester sections – runs a community supported agriculture (CSA) program.”  These programs allow students, faculty and other community members to receive education on healthy food as well as a trusted local source to buy it from.

What cafeteria alternatives have you seen popping up on campus?   How do they compare with the typical campus cafeteria?

One thought on “Alternatives to the College Cafeteria

  1. Trevor R.

    I love company! Used them a few years back and now am an Advisor that manages them. They were great 5 years okay and still love working with them. Funny that I came across their information through Central.

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