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The 7 Healthiest College Dining Halls


Eating at a college dining hall can be a disheartening, upsetting and (literally) sickening experience. We’ve all dreamt of pancakes and woken up to runny eggs or craved a pizza but found the cheese tasted like it was from a can. We all remember a time when we would have traded at least two of our friends for some fresh fruit and veggies at the salad bar. Some dining halls, however, have really gotten it right. Check out these seven schools that have dining halls we would love to eat at!

1. The University of Alabama at Birmingham (Birmingham, AL)

Can you believe that beautiful dining hall? UAB makes a huge effort to source their food from local places, according to their website, and they post calorie information in the dining hall so that you can make informed choices. They even have a dietitian you can contact if you have questions, and their website even has a whole section about local food trucks that have healthy options, like “Off the Hook,” which serves fresh seafood. Are you drooling yet?

Jakeya Johnson, a sophomore, loves that the “Mindful by Sodexo” station provides “low-calorie yet filling meals.” UAB also provides calorie information for their food. People with allergies even have their own station in the dining hall, so finding options is easy regardless of your dietary restrictions!

2. The Savannah College of Art and Design (Savannah, GA)

Mandalay Rainbow Salad or Multicolored Vegetarian Bahn Mi? Yes, please! These are just a few of the fabulous options one of the dining options at SCAD offers students. All the options are clearly labeled for vegetarians, vegans and those who are gluten-free. They even have recipes available online for students who don’t know how to cook their own healthy options, like this Watermelon with Pepitas, Mint, and Ricotta Salata. What more could you ask for?

“The dining facilities at SCAD are very health conscious,” says Anais Corrales, a junior. “It makes a huge difference. I actually didn't mind being on meal plan.”

Anais loves that most of their ingredients come fresh from local farms. Who wouldn’t want to eat in the dining hall every day at SCAD?

3. Bowdoin College (Brunswick, ME)

You can’t get food much fresher than the veggies that come straight from your college’s own organic garden! The Bowdoin Organic Garden grows over 50 organic vegetables that are served in the school’s dining hall, and opportunities are available for students to be a part of the fun.

Vegetarians and vegans have an easy time finding great options at Bowdoin. Make-your-own omelets? No problem! Bowdoin does brunch as well as your favorite joints in New York City.

4. Washington University in St. Louis (St. Louis, MO)

According to Greatist, WUSTL has a great labeling system for its food where you can know immediately if your food contains dairy, eggs, nuts, shellfish, soy and wheat. WUSTL even has a program called “Connie’s Choice,” where a specific label indicates a food that has less than 10 percent saturated fat, low amounts of sodium and lean meat or plant-based protein. With everything clearly labeled, how can you not eat healthily?

In addition, WUSTL has Studio 40, which was “designed to host social and educational event series centered around cooking fresh, local cuisines.” Students can stay healthy while taking small cooking classes centered around dieticians’ advice and cultural themes. Can your college degree include cooking skills for the real world? If you go to Wash U, the answer is yes!

5. The University of Georgia (Athens, GA)

With an A+ grade from Niche, UGA dining may as well be a restaurant. The students rave about the quality, and the dining hall labels food that’s a “Bone-i-fied Good Option,” food that has less than 30 percent calories from fat and food that is vegetarian or vegan, according to UGA.

“The dining halls are the hubs for all social talk and meeting new people,” says a junior on Niche. “The food is amazing and is better than eating in any restaurant.” Not only is the food great, but you also might meet some new friends!

6. The University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)

Who doesn’t love fresh strawberries? Every week, USC students have the opportunity to attend the Trojan Farmers Market, where they can buy “fresh fruit, produce, and healthy snacks.” We’re so into the healthy options this program provides for students.

“They always provide several green options, including nutritious ones like kale and chard,” says Jordan*, a sophomore at USC. “They also always make sure to have several protein options, including tofu for the vegetarians!”

Residential Dining always offers steamed vegetables, “proteins with sauce served on the side as often as possible” and extensive salad bars. USC students can also contact a dietician if they have any questions. We are drooling over USC’s restaurants, like the Honors House and The Parkside Restaurant!

7. Clemson University (Clemson, SC)

Coming in on top of Greatist’s list of healthiest colleges, Clemson makes it easy for its students to maintain a healthy lifestyle. You can look at all the menus online for the dining hall and find all of the nutrition facts so you can plan out your meals.

Clemson strives to use sustainable products, prepare food as close to the meal as possible, educate its students on nutrition and maintain a culturally diverse menu. On the menu is a wide array of some good Southern comfort food, but we know Clemson has great produce, too!

Whether you’re an experienced foodie or you just want food that tastes good, these schools have dining halls with options that will keep you looking and feeling your best. You won’t even feel like you’re in a dining hall at these schools! Sorry, Mom—college has good food, too!

*Name has been changed.

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