The Worst College Food in America in 2012
Editor's note: This content was published in 2012 so this list may not reflect the current quality at these schools. For our most up-to-date report please check out the 75 best colleges for food in America.
10. Hampton University, Hampton, Va.
Dining hall servers here have been described as "rude and unkempt." Limited seating and tummy trouble after dining have also been cited. Blech. Keatrice Robertson, a student author who posted a review on College Prowler, states that on-campus dining is "feared," and that seeing a critter crawling around while grabbing a meal was not a rare occurrence. For real? And past violations include pizza utensils stored in standing water, refrigerator doors that don’t seal, and Alfredo sauce held at the incorrect temperature.
What’s available to eat? Pizza, pasta, salad, sandwiches. Robertson writes that baked chicken used to be served every single day, so it’s clear that variety has not been a top priority in the past.
This just in: Hampton University unveiled a brand-new dining hall this fall. The new facility offers two floors of seating featuring booths, tables, and a high-top bar. More importantly, the food stations now include cook-to-order options, a salad bar, an "All-American deli," and a grill, so let’s hope this school is not on the worst college food list next year.
9. Drew University, Madison, N.J.
Improving campus dining appears to top the list of things to fix at this school. According to the student paper, The Acorn, student government kicked off the school year by working with Dining Services to improve the food options available on campus.
The prices at the Food Court have come under fire and have been described by The Acorn as "simply exorbitant," especially given the declining portion sizes. The paper goes on to explain that it is unacceptable that students find meals that are both cheaper and more substantial off campus. Folks here can grub on Southwest green beans, Cheddar roast beef subs with chips, and vegetable medleys.
In late October, the student council announced that the student store, dubbed the "Inconvenience Store" would begin listing prices on items, so students would be able to keep track of their balances. How progressive. In addition, the store now added early morning hours on Saturdays, as students were concerned with the lack of access to food at that time.
8. Catawba College, Salisbury, N.C.
Boasting "the opportunity to make a sandwich your way," the Cannon Dining Hall at Catawba College offers a rotation of cheese, pepperoni, and specialty pizzas, a make-your-own salad bar, and a selection of cookies, bars, yogurt, and ice cream available daily.
But students here have complained about the poor quality of the food. One student posted online (via College Prowler) that she had been unable to tell what meat she was eating during a meal. Despite being labeled turkey, it tasted like chicken — but looked like pork. So, basically, mystery meat.
The Smokestack Grille at the Cannon Student Center serves up burgers, grilled chicken, and appetizers and accepts student dining dollars.
7. United States Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Points, N.Y.
United States Merchant Marine Academy
According to the academy, the chow at this school is "prepared to conform to nutritional and caloric guidelines to ensure a healthy population is ready for rigorous academic and physical educations." Well that just screams delicious, doesn’t it? No, no it doesn’t.
Breakfast and dinner are served buffet style in the commissary in Delano Hall, where the meals are described as limited, repetitive, and undercooked. That said, the wings are apparently a hit. Go figure.
6. St. John's College, Santa Fe Campus, Santa Fe, N.M.
If vegan loaf with pineapple salsa, pot roast with tomato gravy, and Caribbean sweet potatoes are up your alley, high-tail it to this dining hall. Bet you can’t guess what’s offered for Sunday brunch? Pizza, according to the online menu. Although eggs Benedict and made-to-order crepes would be ideal, odds are high students here would settle for eggs or pancakes.
The college acknowledges that "sometimes the lines are long," but states that the dining hall is open long enough to accommodate everyone. If you think that’s a given, wait to you get to the second school on this list.
For those sick of the dining hall, there is another choice. The Coffee Shop, located in the student center, offers sandwiches, coffee, burgers, and fries to those willing and able to pay cash.
5. Ohio Northern University, Ada, Ohio
Managed by Sodexo, this dining program serves up dishes like orange baguette French toast, deviled egg salad sandwich plate, and a root beer chicken plate, but students here took to the Web via College Prowler to note the lack of variety and repetitive menus on campus.
Night owls take note: Dinner service ends at 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and at 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Prone to midnight munchies? You will clearly need to keep a stash of snacks in your room should you decide to attend this institution of higher learning.
According to a poll on the ONU Organizations website, 21 percent of students who participated are most concerned about dining services, second only to budget appropriations which garnered 36 percent. Other areas of concern included campus events, housing selection, and parking.
4. Hampden-Sydney College, Hampden Sydney, Va.
Between the Kellogg’s cereal station, ham or turkey sandwiches served with fresh vegetables, and honey-glazed chicken, Hampden-Sydney College doesn’t seem to give kids a lot to write home about.
Vegetarians, your menu is a bit limited. Aside from the create-your-own salad option available daily, dinner options include items like tofu and water chestnut dip with pita chips, Buffalo tofu, and a ginger tofu salad wrap. Hope the veggie-loving undergrads here are as passionate about tofu as the college appears to be.
Health violations in 2011 included the blockage of the hand-washing facility in the serving area, preventing access by employees; and improperly stored wet cloths, which need to be kept in a chemical sanitizer between uses. Both violations were corrected during the inspection.
This year, violations included storing prepared, ready-to-eat food in the refrigeration units with inaccurate "consume by" dates, which can promote the growth of harmful bacteria — in addition, food in the pizza prep area was being kept at improper temperatures.
Also a problem: Inspectors found equipment storage at the hand-washing station at the salad bar, which is supposed to be for hand-washing and hand-washing alone. Come on, people.
Finally, the college was cited for improper storage of maintenance chemicals, which can cause contamination of food, utensils, and equipment. These violations were also corrected during inspection.
3. Wells College, Aurora, N.Y.
Run by Aurora Inn Inc., a food management company that also runs five local restaurants, Wells Dining offers students continental breakfasts, ice cream, and an assortment of coffee and espresso beverages from the Express Café located in the south wing of the dining hall, among other things.
Want to swing by the dining hall and grab a sandwich to chow down on in your room? Too bad. No food or beverages are allowed to be removed from the main dining hall, with the exception of the following: one cup of ice cream or one ice cream cone, one piece of fruit, or one dessert item and a beverage in a permissible container.
Breaking the rules may result in the "revocation of dining privileges," so don’t try to be a rebel here.
2. New College of Florida, Sarasota, Fla.
Undergrads here are offered stir-fry dishes, salad bar options, and sandwiches, among other things. Students cited the oily, over-salted food and lack of variety as issues at the Hamilton Center facility, nicknamed "Ham."
Far worse: dining services "oftentimes" run out of a dinner entrée before the meal is over. Running out of food? Can someone please explain how this could happen in a dining hall even once? We’ll wait. Mom and Dad, if your child attends this school, please send robust care packages, just in case.
Students praise the entirely student-run operation, Four Winds Café, but, alas, the service is slow due to high demand, the seating limited, the hours minimal, and the food far pricier. Sadness.
1. Fordham University, New York City
Pasteurized liquid eggs. Kidney beans. Egg salad sandwich on multi-grain. Is your mouth watering? Probably not. Voted the worst college food in America by students via the Princeton Review, Fordham University’s dining appears to leave much to be desired.
Managed by Sodexo, dining services provides fare like converted white rice (converted from what, we have no idea), lime Jell-O parfait, and broccoli Cheddar ranch pizza. Vegetarian and vegan students, God be with you. Students who love rice noodles (sticks), uncooked quinoa, and both kidney and cannellini beans will think they are in heaven — these menu items repeat on a daily basis.
According to the student paper, The Ram, issues with food aren’t a new occurrence. Last year, a student, Michelle FlorCruz, told the paper she had found "a full grasshopper the size of [her] thumb" in the middle of her salad. I mean really. After lodging a formal complaint, she was given $25 worth of DCB — or declining cash balance. So, money to buy more of this "food."
Other surprise ingredients that have been reported include a plastic nail in a hamburger, discovered only because the student wanted to add ketchup to his meal, and a blue pushpin in a chocolate chip muffin. Both victims were given $25 gift certificates to Dagger John's, a campus eatery that serves fare like chicken fingers and wraps, as compensation.
Students have been so outraged with the quality of the food that a town hall took place in April of last year for students to speak with Sodexo representatives, and air these very legitimate grievances. In 2011, health violations — including evidence of mice and roaches — were cited by the New York City Department of Health at four of the university's dining facilities. If you want to know which colleges to have a better experience at these are the 75 best colleges for food in America.