Think back to the meals you were served during those formative K-12 years. What comes to mind? Like most people, it’s probably a less than appetizing memory of lukewarm chicken fingers or pizza shaped into a rectangle for no particular reason the typical fare you’d expect from a cafeteria. Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania isn’t just molding an unstoppable workforce out of the 2,500 students enrolled in its top ranking programs. They’re also feeding them quite well, and in a way that most would deem superior to the cuisine found at other schools across the country. If you’re a current or prospective student that likes to get their grub on in a healthy fashion, then read on to discover why Lafayette might just be the place to be.
The kitchen staff at the university have a very simple philosophy: get rid of the corporate recipes. This is the trap that leads to poorly received food that might be high in quantity, but definitely lacking in quality. Nutrition and flavor is bolstered by sourcing local and seasonal products. In fact, the college’s official website says their food is so fresh that they don’t have the need for much larger freezers that other kitchens rely on to store ingredients for months on end (shudder). And it’s not just American food that they’re putting love and care into. They take great pride in serving up delicious ethnic cuisine that’s perfected through a hands on approach with cooking experts. A convenient online form gives you 1:1 access with a dietician for questions or concerns that might arise.
Students today are impassioned about the environment, and they’ll be happy to know that Lafayette is equally interested in sustainability and the reduction of waist. For example, they support over 1,000 small scale artisans and farmers when stocking up. Other initiatives have led to a 25% reduction in waste that’s no small feat when you consider just how many materials go into feeding students three times a day for seven days a week. Fryer oil can be a hot commodity to those who’ve outfitted their cars with converters to rely on less gasoline, and eco-conscious administrators do what they can to donate this prized oil whenever they can.
Colleges.niche is an excellent ranking based resource for students they’ve given the school’s dining program a commendable B+ rating there. One student summed up the experience quite thoroughly by saying, “There are staple foods that I find myself choosing most often, with a diverse arrange of entree options throughout the week that do not seem to be repeated too often.” Others give glowing remarks about how receptive the university is to student needs. Remember that Lafayette is a private institution with a relatively small student body, though they operate five functional dining halls (this is on par with what would be expected of a school five times its size). They say the food is so satisfying, that there’s really not much of a desire to venture off campus to local pizza joints and the like. Clearly this is one meal plan that’s worth the price of admission.
If consistent, healthy offerings and concern for areas like sustainability are crucial for your college dining experience, then this school will prove more than gratifying on all spectrums. Whether you’re the between class hamburger type or a lifelong vegan with a slew of dietary restrictions, there’s a dish and a person to accommodate you.
Ryan James is a ’13 alumnus of Ohio University’s College of Arts & Sciences with a bachelor’s degree in writing and media. He currently works as a copywriter for a Fortune 500 e-commerce corporation based in Columbus, OH.