Bethlehem, Pennsylvania’s Lehigh University divided into four undergraduate colleges that include traditional liberal arts and business centric programs boasts a highly selective student body of roughly 5,000 undergraduates. While this certainly isn’t a large number compared to some private institutions, the fact remains these students, like any other, need to eat for that brainpower. Campus food quality varies drastically from school to school, with each trying to create a plan that’s as healthy as it is attuned to certain administrative philosophies about diet, the environment and general satisfaction. So since you’re here, you must be curious about the kind of culinary surprises you’re in for at this prestigious place of learning. For the good and the not so good, keep on reading!
Let’s begin with the positive attributes that Mountain Hawks reap from the dining program here. For one, the school does appear to be concerned with the consequences that sourcing food for so many people can have on the environment. They purchase local season produce whenever it’s available, and they’re constantly refining the process of disposing all different kinds of waste. Sustainability is a topic of interest for millennials, which is why Lehigh has even developed social media campaign for the hashtag crazy of the world to help spread the word. Take it one step further by taking it upon yourself to collaborate with the management team. You’ll find that they’re eager to hear from students with ideas for innovation.
Another perk one that’s not so accessible elsewhere is having the luxury of an on-campus dietician who can guide you through everything from the basics on healthy eating to management of food allergies or other illnesses. For even greater visibility when you’re out having a quick bite between classes, the university has developed a series of color-coded nutritional items that lets you find the items that most fit your needs. Managers and chefs are more than willing to discuss the day’s menu if you’re still uncertain about a certain dish. The college really has gone out of its way to ensure that any student’s dietary goals, restrictions and questions never feel like a burden.
If you’re interested in Lehigh University, check out our article on Campus Food Quality at Lehigh University.
Where does the program start to fall flat? Undergraduates on colleges.niche state a real disappointment with the lack of diversity that’s encountered strolling down the meal line. A large portion of what’s served is your typical dining hall fare, such as chicken fingers and pizza. This creates a real inconsistency in a menu that’s healthy only some of the time. Then there’s the problem with the physical space itself. Only two central dining halls can be found on the school grounds, leading to crowded conditions and rather poor hours of operation (pro tip: only one is open on the weekends). Upperclassmen claim that it’s equally hard to find quality meals off campus, where a vast majority of the alternatives are either fast food chains or hit and miss ethnic restaurants. Essentially, students in one way or another will be tethered to the dining halls throughout their academic career at Lehigh.
There’s certainly room for improvement at this university in terms of food quality, variety and even location. That doesn’t mean, however, that the administration has grown content with being lackluster in this area. Everything from new entrees to region chef competitions are being rolled out for improvement. Who knows, you could be the next student leader with a grand notion about sustainability or a recipe your peers just have to try.
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.