25 Universities with the Healthiest and Freshest Food

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For this list, we selected 25 universities that go above and beyond to provide their students with fresh, healthy options and plenty of menu variety. Some of the themes include locally produced foods, organic ingredients, and professionally trained culinary staff. These institutions are deeply committed to providing the best for their students when it comes to nutrition.

1. Bowdoin College, Maine

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Bowdoin College, located in Brunswick, Maine, has made the top of the list for the best tasting food in a college university. Bowdoin purchases local produce from local farmers to offer the freshest ingredients to their students. Bowdoin’s chefs develop menu’s with gourmet meals like squash fettuccine, Mongolian Beef Hot Pot, and Haddock w/Jalapeno. Bowdoin’s website boosts “Even though we feed hundreds of people in our dining halls, most of our cooking is done in small batches so that we can offer a product that is as fresh and delicious for our first customer as for our last. We try hard to strike a healthy balance, including whole foods, local and organic ingredients while ensuring that those favorite comfort foods are still available.” Link

2. Washington University in St. Louis

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Washington University’s has partnered with Bon Appétit Management Company to provide students with high quality meals. Bon Appétit is nationally known as the leader in college dining. Menus focus on fresh and local seasonal product and each dish is prepared using techniques to preserve nutrition. Chefs and staff members are trained in making a variety of dishes from around the world. Washington University’s menu includes vegetarian dishes, kosher and halal prepared meals, and food that caters to those with specific allergies. They also offer several different eating locations, so students can have different foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Link

3. Virginia Tech, Virginia

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Virginia Tech dining services has been ranked within the top four by the Princeton Review for over eight years. This school has a unique program called Y.E.S, You’re Eating Smarter program. Y.E.S is dedicated to keeping its students and the environment healthy. The Y.E.S program has eliminated trans-fats in most of their foods and has created the GO program, which gives students healthier grab-and-go-options. Food venues provide students with whole grain breads, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, and proteins. The daily menu changes constantly, to assure that students will never get tired of their meals. Link

4. Emory University, Georgia

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The dining program at Emory University has experienced nutritionists on their team to ensure each meal is healthy and weight manageable. Emory’s center for healthy eating, Food E U, is an innovated dining experience which gives everyone, including students, staff, and faculty, a chance to eat sustainable and nutritiously. The EU community can even grow their own food through Food E U. The main cafeteria, Dobbs Market, is buffet style, which allows students to eat as healthy as they want. Dobbs Market offers fresh foods, a salad bar, vegan meals, and food prepared by a stationed chef. Options are almost endless when it come to food at EU. Link

5.UCLA, California

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UCLA has an award-winning dining program that gives students high quality meals. The dining services web page list all foods and their nutrition facts, so students are able to make an informed decision on what the choose to eat. Nutrition education is also available to students. The nutrition educational program, Ask Dolores, gives students the chance to learn about how to cook and select foods to meet the health goals. UCLA’s Healthy Campus Initiative focuses on buying locally produced vegetables, fruits, meats, and seafood. They also ensure that foods are sustainability grown, unprocessed, and preservative free. Organic foods, vegetarian, and vegan options are available. Link

6. Cornell University, New York

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Cornell dining has been ranked among the top 10 in the Princeton Review for their high quality and variety of food. Cornell University has over 30 campus eateries to choose from including an all you can eat dining room, cafes, coffee houses, and convenience stores. Healthy options are available in all their eateries. Nutritional information is also available on all foods served. To make eating healthy easier Cornell gives the Eating Well seal of approval to all foods that are 100% whole grain, 100% trans fat free, made with only fresh ingredients, or low in fat, sugar, and salt. Any foods with these qualities are marked with an the Eating Well Apple to make selecting healthy foods simple. Link

7. UMass Amherst, Massachusetts

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UMass is dedicated to providing healthy and freshly prepared cuisine. Dishes are made with fresh and sustainable ingredients to ensure quality. UMass dining menus consists of tantalizing dishes from all over the world. Each dish was developed by nutritionists, dietitians, and chefs to create well-balanced and appetizing meals for everyone. Just because UMass has to serve 16,500 students does not mean they cut corners on food quality. In fact UMass was ranked number three in the 2013’s Princeton Review of best college foods. Some of their dishes include chicken tikka masala, kale pesto with chicken and zucchini, and Blackened tilapia with herb vegetable orzo salad. Link

8. Kennesaw State University, Georgia

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Kennesaw’s Common Dining Hall is one of the best in the nation according BestColleges.com. Everything in the dining hall is prepared fresh in the kitchen. And when they say everything, they mean everything. The dining hall makes their own soups, breads, and even pickles from scratch. Culinary options include vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free dishes. Kennesaw State operates on a farm-to-campus philosophy. 20% of the produce used is actually grown right there on campus. Honey is taken from the campus’ bee colony. Future plans for the school’s dining hall include making their own cheese, olive oil, and bringing live chickens onto campus to produce fresh eggs. Students are guaranteed an amazing and unique dining experience at Kennesaw. Link

9. Tufts University, Massachusetts

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Great tasting and high quality food are what Tufts University dining is all about. Tufts dining is ranked among the best in University Dining Services. Meals are overseen by qualified nutritionists to ensure meals are healthy. Dishes are freshly prepared with quality ingredients everyday. Their menu includes fine meats, organic food, locally grown produce, whole grains, low-fat foods, and trans-fat free foods. Tuft University has a large variety of food that can satisfy anyone’s craving. They’re menu ranges from healthy and vegetarian meals to indulgent meat lover dishes. Student favorites include chicken parmesan subs, pasta, homemade soups, sushi, fresh baked cookies, and smoothies. Link

10. Yale University, Connecticut

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Yale University knows the importance of nourishing the mind and body. Yale dining provides their students and guests with fresh high quality dishes. Their campus has 23 dining operations with menus featuring freshly prepared dishes ranging from comforting to nutritious. They have a wide array of balanced meals to assist in students health. Vegetarian and vegan choices are also available. Yale University’s dining web page lists the menu’s nutrition facts and allergens, allowing students to know how healthy their meals are. Dishes include grilled chicken vegetable flat bread, Caribbean shrimp chowder, and pan-roasted asparagus with lemon and garlic. Link

11. St. Olaf College, Minnesota

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Like Washington University, St. Olaf College is also teamed up with Bon Appétit to provide students with restaurant quality food. St. Olaf has lots of dishes from around the world, including Mexican, Indian, pan-Asian, and classic American foods. Dining services are committed to making meals with fresh and local ingredients. Vegetables and herbs used in to prepare food are from the student run organic farm. Meat and poultry are antibiotic and growth hormone free. Apples used in meals are from the orchard just a few minutes away from campus. And diary products are from the local family owned farm, Deja Moon. All meals are made to be as healthy, fresh, and delicious as possible. Link

12. Northwestern University, Illinois

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Northwestern dining is dedicated to educating and enriching students on nutrition and health. They have teamed up with Sodexo to offer students educational resources, so students can make healthy living choices. They also give students healthy and nutritious meal choices, prepared with seasonally grown local and regional produce. New delicious meals are added during each season to highlight the unique flavors of each season. Sodexo puts labels their food with different icons so students can make informed food choices. This food label marks foods that are mindful, gluten-free, local, organic, vegetarian, and vegan. Their campus has several eating areas so students can have multiple food options everyday. Link

13. Gettysburg College, Pennsylvania

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Gettysburg has an award winning dining service that offers a wide variety of food. Options include comfort foods, health foods, and grab-and-go options. Nutrition and wellness is at the top of the list at Gettysburg College. Dining options include fresh cut meats, bountiful salad bars, fruit bars with low-fat yogurt and cottage cheese. To uphold the integrity of the salad bars and to prove its freshness, Gettysburg dining has a salad bar webcam that is accessible on their website. If you need advice on nutrition and health, students can meet with an on campus dietitians. Link

14. Occidental College, California

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Campus dining on Occidental’s campus is an experience in fresh foods made from scratch. They use the best ingredients California has to offer. Occidental has developed a program called Real Food Challenge which is committed to sustainability. Their dining services provide students with locally grown and in season produce that is free of harmful pesticides. All animal product are as humane and natural as possible.  Their menu features cage free eggs and free range, hormone and antibiotic free chicken, beef, and pork. Organic foods are used whenever possible. Dining services include salad bars, home style foods, soups, and more. Link

15. Grinnell College, Iowa

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Grinnell College Dining Services has an award winning Marketplace. The Marketplace and campus eatery, The Grill, has a verity of beverages, fresh baked goods, snacks, and grab-and-go items. Locally grown food is proven to be healthier, fresher, and more flavorful, which is why Grinnell College strives to buy locally grown goods for their almost all their recipes. To assure students are as healthy as possible, Ginnelle’s dining services page provides nutrition and dietary facts on all their popular foods. Link

16. UC Berkeley, California

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UC Berkeley strives to balance a healthy life-style with flexibility. The school has several options for students with food allergies, religious dietary needs, vegan and vegetarian needs. Meals are cooked in trans-fat free rice oil or vegan margarine. They also serve trans-fat free peanut butter and whole wheat bread. In March 2006 Cal dining received the nation’s first Organic Certification on a college campus. UC Berkeley Dining Services has partnered with Piranha Produce and United Natural Foods to present students with organic fruits, vegetables, nuts, dressings, oils, and vinegars. Nutritional information on meals are available online or at the nutrition resource location. Link

17. UC Davis, California

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UC Davis has a professionally trained culinary team making a diverse range of delicious meals. The culinary team is highly educated in nutrition and the culinary arts and meals are made in a state-of-the-art dining facilities. Food is prepared with sustainable ingredients to ensure flavor and nutrition. US Davis dining services have also teamed up with Sodexo to provide students with fresh local products that promote health and wellness. Meals and snacks range from indulgent to mindful that include fresh fruit smoothies, sushi, make-your-own sundaes, fresh baked cookies, jalapeno poppers, cheese fondue, curly fries, and much more. To get the most out of meals, a student nutrition talk coordinator is located in each dining hall to answer food related questions. Link

18. Columbia University, New York

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Columbia University has a strong emphasis on nutritional education. They celebrate the joy of healthy, affordable and sustainable food choices. The school has several health related programs such as a nutrition month, registered dietitian to assist students, and Kirstie’s Course,  which helps students make smarter choices about eating. The school provides fresh in season fruits and vegetables. Dining services prepare kosher, halal, vegan, and vegetarian options. The school even has Meatless Mondays, in which no meat is served on Mondays. This doesn’t just benefit vegetarians. Studies show that less meat in a person’s diet can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer. Link 

19. Princeton University, New Jersey

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The Princeton Garden Project contributes a large portion of their crop to the Dining Services. Foods used from the garden include fresh herbs, fruits, and vegetables. These ingredients are used to make a variety of fresh, savory, and delicious meals for students and staff. Princeton marks all their healthy food with the Conscious Cuisine label. The guidelines for Conscious Cuisine are whole foods, use of seasonal food, no complex carbohydrates or artificial ingredients, and no more than 30% calories from fat. Princeton Dining Services has also significantly reduced the use of trans-fats. All fried and baked goods are made with non-trans fat oils. Link 

20. Stanford University, California

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Stanford has an EatWell program that is committed to providing sustainable and delicious food choices to support a healthy life style. The Arrillaga Family Dining Commons is a state-of-the-art two story dining facility. Food is made with state-of the-art culinary technology. There are eight convenient food locations on campus and all dining halls have a fresh salad and soup bar, seasonal themed healthy entrees, grilled specials, fresh fruit, and locally grown vegetables. Vegetation, vegan, and kosher meals are available. Gluten-free sandwiches, organic salads, and fresh baked goods are provided at the campus’ Med Cafe. For those looking for some sinful treats, the campus restaurant, The Axe and Palm, sell signature hamburgers and tasty comfort foods for students to enjoy. Link

21. Harvard University, Massachusetts

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The Harvard University Dining Services or HUDS makes most of their meals from scratch. The HUDS Culinary Support Groups is dedicated to making home style goodness on a large scale, considering they have to serve more than 2000 meals a day. Their ingredients are bought from local sources whenever possible. Almost all the meals are prepared fresh each day and the ones that are not, actually benefit from being created on a large scale. Soups, Stews, Sauces, and salads that are made on a large scale have greater freshness, consistency, and better taste. Recipes are constantly tested and revised to better their taste and nutrition. Link

22. Middlebury College, Vermont

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Middlebury College dining services provide breakfast, lunch, and dinner 7 days a week at three
different eating location on campus to maintain a variety. Dining Services are committed to supporting local foods and providing fresh, high quality, and great tasting menu items. Some ingredients are even taken from Middlebury’s organic garden. Their mission statement is “nourish and nurture today and tomorrow by sustaining the mind, body, and earth”. By being mindful of the the earth they are also being mindful of the student’s well being. Regular menu items include grilled marinated chicken, fresh veggie quesadillas, green chef’s salad, and freshly baked pizzas. Link

23. University of Georgia, Georgia

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Dining services at the University of Georgia is consistently ranked among the top 20 in the Princeton Review and has won numerous other awards for its high quality meals and student satisfaction. They have an abundance of nutritious choices including whole grains, lean meats and fresh vegetables. The school has a long list vegetarian and vegan entrée which include, but are not limited to, veggie burgers, hot dogs, hummus plates, fresh salads, bean and rice dishes, and delectable grilled cheese sandwiches. The University of Georgia has an Eating Smart Line at the Bolton Dining Commons which designs entrées and snacks to have less than 30% of its calories from fat. Link

24. James Madison University, Virginia

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James Madison University believes that good food is essential to a healthy life. The school offers healthy and wholesome meal choices. They provide nutrition and wellness programs to help students make healthy choices. James Madison University offers sustainable foods, fresh seafood from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Program, and fair trade coffee. They have several eating locations on campus. Health and nutrition facts on all the foods served at each location are listed on the dining services web page. Link

25. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Dining services at MIT give students many resources for mindful eating. They are committed to providing fresh, delicious, and nutritious meals at a great value. MIT follows the latest contemporary and culinary cuisines from around the world. Dining facilities cook with trans-fat free oils. Meals in House Dining Operation use hormone free meats and fresh local vegetables. Seafood used in dishes meets Seafood Watch sustainability guidelines. They serve only humanely raised ground beef and cage-free eggs. The support of local agriculture and humane foods cuts down on pollution and worker abuse, making and everyone healthier. Link

Students spend a lot of time on campus so naturally they’re going to eat on campus often. There are many things to consider before deciding on a school and dining services should be one of them. To help pick one out, ask yourself if they have food that meet your dietary needs. Do they have vegetarian or vegan options? Do they prepare kosher or halal meals? We hope this list will help you pick the right school to meet your needs.