• Campus Food

UC Davis – Does Dining Right


There are a lot of things to consider when choosing the college that’s right for you academics, campus culture and transportation are among the high ranking priorities. Students are now adding food to the list, but it’s not just because millennials are focusing more on nutrition and alternative eating lifestyles like veganism. Schools, often looking to save a dollar, are outsourcing their dining programs to companies. The results? Not promising. Lack of variety, nutrition and even customer service all make an appearance. On paper, the UC Davis has a few things working against it. Chiefly, they have a staggering amount of students over 36,000 to be approximate. They’ve still put together a comprehensive culinary program that provides hungry Aggies with options, value and more. Read on if you’re curious why this school has just as many successful graduates as it does clean platers.

First, let’s talk about being SPE-certified and why it’s important that University of California Davis is. SPE stands for Sanitas Per Escam, or Latin for health through food. It’s an industry standard program that focuses on nutrition and taste as one. To become certified, University of California Davis worked closely with a team of nutritionists and chefs. The ultimate goal is to leave students feeling full with energy in spades. According to the university’s official menu breakdown, you can see how being SPE-certified has enhanced a favorite dish like the roasted corn and mushroom quesadilla. It now has 150% more dietary fiber, 60% more calcium, 50% less fat and 20% fewer calories. The continual refinement of food items should already show you that this school is interested in serving their students the best food that it can.

To breakdown locations, there are three central dining halls: Segundo, Tercero and Cuarto. Students say that they all offer exceptional variety, with there even being choices for the oft-forgotten vegetarian, vegan and gluten free set. Rotating menu items cater to those looking for diversity, but there are staples for Aggies that include pizza, grilled items and a salad bar. Look out for themed meal nights which tend to cater to the season or specific ethnic cuisine. An informational pamphlet tells us that nearly 55,000 are served in these three locations every week. The eco-conscious might wonder if the school does anything to reduce waste or their carbon footprint. They sure do!

The school procures a generous percentage of its ingredients locally, which gives college students the freshness they keep asking for. All organic matter gets converted into clean energy, and reusable containers are offered whenever possible. There are also a number of educational opportunities for students, like the Quarterly Student Cooking Challenge, Food Day and internships available in nutrition or sustainability.

We recently told you about the professors to avoid at UC Davis, and now we’re going to tell you about the place you should avoid eating. Silo Union, which is considered a university retail location and not a dining hall that accepts meal plan swipes, is home to fast food joints like Carl’s Jr., Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. Avoid falling into the trap of spending all of your money here, because there are much more nutritious offerings in the dining halls. Plus, if you’re an undergraduate with a mandatory meal plan, you want to get as much value out of it as you can.

UC Davis caters to all types with their food program, and as to be expected from a school on the West Coast, there are plenty of regional favorites (bring on the burritos) to be enjoyed. Dietician services supplement the convenient nutritional facts found next to every dining hall dish super easy. We give this school an A+. Go Aggies!

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.

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