As in years past, we considered more than 2,000 American colleges and narrowed the list down to 80 finalists — five more than in previous years — based on the following criteria:
Accessibility and Service: The college accommodates all dietary preferences, has a variety of options for students to choose from, and makes sure that the dining options are conveniently located near students’ dorms. Dining program has on-campus eateries that are open late at night, and meal plans let students purchase off-campus food.
Education and Events: The college offers nutrition and culinary education to every student on campus and holds 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 grade colleges on the quality and accessibility of all the food around campuses within a five-mile radius.
The “X” Factor: These are the little extras that made our jaws drop and prove that these colleges really go above and beyond to get genuinely creative.
We won’t spoil the results, but it’s worth pointing out that schools of all types, all sizes, and in all corners of the country comprise the 80 finalists. And if you graduated more than a decade ago, we should probably warn you: These dining facilities are unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. A greater attention to feedback, advances in technology, an emphasis on healthy options, and environmental awareness have all taken a front row seat at campuses across the country, so prospective college students and their parents have a lot to be excited about in 2016 — even compared to 2015. Here’s what’s on the menu.