20 Best Colleges for Campus Food

Editors' pick: Originally published August 31.

Times sure have changed when it comes to college campus dining options. Gone are the processed, mysterious food choices and fast food takeout of the past. Today it's all about serving up healthy, locally grown meals and incorporating sustainable initiatives, such as reusable to-go containers and "trayless dining" to conserve water when cleaning.

These and other trends contributed to the Princeton Review's annual Best Campus Food ranking, a list of the top 20 schools named by students as best in the category when surveyed about on-campus food satisfaction.

Bon Appetit Management, the food service provider for Seattle University and Washington University in St. Louis, among other museums and corporations, launched Farm to Fork back in 1999. The program requires its chefs to buy at least 20% of ingredients from small local farmers within 150 miles of its kitchens.

In addition to providing healthier meals, colleges and universities are hitting on today's culinary trends, such as the University of San Diego's Torero Tu Go food truck, which gives students the opportunity to feast on food that reflects the area's culinary culture. The food served has a combination of Kumeyaay Indian, Portuguese, Mexican, Italian and Asian influences, according to the school's Web site.

The Best Campus Foods list is a part of the Princeton Review's annual best colleges report, which ranks 381 colleges and universities on everything from financial aid to academics to dorm satisfaction, based on 143,000 student surveys taken by the tutoring and test prep company. For the campus food list, students were asked to specifically answer the question: How do you rate the food on campus?

Here are the 20 schools that according to the Princeton Review have the best on-campus food. 

20. Goucher College
20. Goucher College

Goucher College, a small liberal arts school located in Baltimore, is the 20th best college for campus food, according to the Princeton Review. Goucher's food service provider is Bon Appétit Management, which provides the school's six dining options, according to the school's Web site. Check out Alice's Restaurant, one of the most popular places on campus, for a Caprese sandwich or grab a cup of local Maryland coffee from the Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company at the Van.

Goucher College has 1,480 undergraduate students, according to its Web site. Approximately 82% of the Goucher College's undergraduates live on campus, the Princeton Review said.

19. Seattle University
19. Seattle University

Going to school in the heart of Seattle, students at Seattle University have the bustling Northwest city at their fingertips -- with no shortage of coffee shops, Pike Place Market and Chinatown nearby.

But Seattle University's six on-campus dining locations hold their own, also operated by Bon Appétit. Pick up a smoked salmon salad sandwich or baked catfish in banana leaves at the Cherry Street Market. At the Sidebar, consider the baked potato bar or pork pupusas.

From gourmet pizza to vegan options, campus food is purchased with "high ethical standards and environmental impact in mind: eggs are cage-free, beef is range-fed, fish adheres to Seafood Watch guidelines, and produce is organic and grown locally whenever possible," according to Seattle University.

Seattle University has 4,700 undergraduate students. Approximately 46% of the Seattle University's undergraduates live on campus, the Princeton Review said.

18. College of Saint Benedict/Saint John's University
18. College of Saint Benedict/Saint John's University

The College of St. Benedict (for women) and Saint John's University (for men) are two Catholic liberal arts colleges located in St. Joseph, Minn., that share academic programs and classes but maintain separate dorms and campuses.

Head to Gorecki Dining Room at the College of Saint Benedict for a wide variety of culinary treats from the Mongolian Grill to fresh tossed salads. At SJU Refectory try a quinoa spinach bake or buffalo chicken pizza.

Total undergraduate enrollment at the two colleges is approximately 3,700 undergraduate students and approximately 90% of the two colleges' undergraduates live on campus, the Princeton Review said.

17. University of San Diego
17. University of San Diego

Living in Southern California, students at the University of San Diego may be tempted to head right for the beach after class, but the campus has plenty to offer too -- particularly when it comes to dining options.

Aromas Coffee House is one of the most popular campus hangouts and features fresh-roasted local coffee by Ryan Bros. The owners are also alumni of the school.

And don't forget to visit Torero Tu Go, the school's own self-operated food truck, featuring "a reflection of San Diego's historical culinary culture ... Kumeyaay Indian, Portuguese, Mexican, Italian and Asian influences," according to the school.

The University of San Diego has approximately 5,600 undergraduate students. Approximately 45% of undergraduates live on campus, the Princeton Review said.

16. Muhlenberg College
16. Muhlenberg College

Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa., earned the Princeton Review's No. 16 best spot on its Best Campus Food list. Chefs at Muhlenberg take their creations seriously.

Muhlenberg is one of five nearby schools to participate in an annual Battle of the Chefs, a must-attend bragging rights event, where students line up to get some tasty treats inspired by changing themes like music, movies and the Seven Wonders of the World.

The school also emphasizes sustainability, with practices including "the operation of a hydroponic herb garden, use of reusable to-go containers and eco-friendly paper products, the offering of only fair trade coffee, and an on-site pulper that reduces waste by almost 90 percent," according to The Daily Meal, which conducted its own best colleges for food ranking, where Muhlenberg ranked No. 41 this year.

Muhlenberg College has approximately 2,400 undergraduate students. Approximately 91% of undergraduates live on campus, the Princeton Review said.

15. Vanderbilt University
15. Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University, No. 15 on Princeton Review's list, wants students to stay connected. The school, located in Nashville, Tenn., has created social media channels specifically about campus dining on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr and YouTube as well as apps for the Apple iPhone and Google Android to keep students abreast of daily menus, nutrition and events.

Vanderbilt's menus change seasonally, with chefs buying local and organic whenever possible, according to the school.

Vanderbilt University has approximately 6,800 undergraduate students. Approximately 92% of undergraduates live on campus, the Princeton Review said.

14. Gettysburg College
14. Gettysburg College

Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pa., ranks No. 14 on the Princeton Review's best campus food list. Through one of its five dining locations, the school focuses on using locally grown foods as well as sourcing from companies based nearby such as Utz, Hershey, Roaring Spring and Musselman's, the school says on its Web site.

In 2012, the school's dining services introduced honey bees to campus. With the help of Graybill's Bee-Haven, it says, the beehive sits on the northwest end of campus.

Sustainability is another initiative the school takes seriously. For instance, food waste is directed to the Painted Turtle Farm on campus for compost.

Gettysburg College has approximately 2,600 undergraduate students. Approximately 94% of undergraduates live on campus, the Princeton Review said.

13. Scripps College
13. Scripps College

Scripps College in Claremont, Calif., is a private women's liberal arts college that is a part of the prestigious group that comprises Claremont Colleges.

While its students distinguish themselves academically, the school holds many traditions that date back to its beginnings. Students and faculty may enjoy high tea every Wednesday afternoon during the school year. Scripps College also hosts Candlelight Dinners, held four times a year to "promote a sense of family within the halls," according to the school's Web site.

Scripps College has approximately 1,000 undergraduate students, with all of them living on campus, the Princeton Review said.

12. Bates College
12. Bates College

Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, is a small liberal arts school located about 40 miles north of Portland. The school ranked No. 12 on the Princeton Review's list. Its locally sourced menu includes vegan chocolate chip cookies, Boston baked haddock, stir fried summer squash and pea pods, and BBQ pulled beef sandwiches.

Bates College has approximately 1,700 undergraduate students, with approximately 91% living on campus, the Princeton Review said.

11. University of Scranton
11. University of Scranton

The University of Scranton is a Catholic and Jesuit college in Scranton, Pa., with approximately 4,000 undergraduate students. Approximately 64% live on campus, Princeton Review said.

Students at the University of Scranton have their pick of dining locations. The Fresh Food Company is the university's all-you-can-eat style of dining, offering "better than home cooking." The university also offers Einstein Bros. Bagels, Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, Quiznos and Java City Café, according to the school Web site.

10. Bryn Mawr College
10. Bryn Mawr College

Bryn Mawr College, a small liberal arts college with approximately 1,300 undergraduate students in Bryn Mawr, Pa., ranked No. 10 on the Princeton Review's list. Approximately 93% live on campus, the Princeton Review said.

Bryn Mawr says variety is the key to keeping dining options appealing to students. The school offers a different "specialty bar" each night, with options ranging from stir fry to a breakfast-for-dinner. Produce is locally sourced and coffee is fair-trade products, including Peets Coffee and Sun Coffee.

Some dining halls survey students for music selections played during meal times, the school said. Bryn Mawr also hosts themed dinners, Meatless Mondays and special events.

Bryn Mawr dining services also works with Philabundance, a large food bank in the region, to provide food that might otherwise go to waste to those in need, the school said.

9. Washington University in St. Louis
9. Washington University in St. Louis

Washington University in St. Louis, located inSt. Louis, Mo., ranked No. 9 on the Princeton Review's list of best campus food. Students at Washington University can choose between more than two dozen eateries on campus, including kosher, halal, vegetarian and allergy-free options. One of the campus' most popular eateries is the Whisper Café, located in Olin Library, the Princeton Review said. The schools dining services are operated by Bon Appétit Management.

The school has approximately 7,500 undergraduate students and approximately 78% live on campus, the Princeton Review said.

8. Saint Anselm College
8. Saint Anselm College

Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., ranked No. 8 on Princeton Review's list of best campus food. The small Catholic liberal arts school has approximately 1,900 undergraduate students, and approximately 92% live on campus, Princeton Review said.

Don't miss trying a Saint A's signature burger. Only fellow Anselmians know what goes under the bun.

7. James Madison University
7. James Madison University

James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., ranked No. 7 on the Princeton Review's list of best campus food. The school has approximately 19,000 undergraduate students, and just 13% live on campus, Princeton Review said.

But food and sustainability is taken seriously at the university. Through the school's local purchasing initiative, its dining services sources depending on the season and availability from farms and orchards located within Virginia. The university also seeks out cage-free shell eggs, 100% grass-fed beef, fair-trade certified products as well as Rainforest Alliance and American Humane certified ingredients where possible.

In addition, James Madison organizes fall farmer's markets, where students are allowed to use their meal cards to buy fresh produce from local farmers. The school also donates excess food to a local Salvation Army.

6. College of the Atlantic
6. College of the Atlantic

College of the Atlantic, located in Bar Harbor, Maine, in proximity to picturesque Acadia National Park, is a tiny school compared with most colleges on the Princeton Review's best campus food list. But the school scores big when it comes to food offerings for its students, coming in at No. 6 on the list.

Food is made from scratch using local and organic ingredients. Cookies and desserts are baked fresh each morning. The school has vegetarian and vegan options and, according to the school's Web site, tofu/mac & cheese night is not to be missed. Also, be sure to stop and grab a smoothie at the Sea Urchin Café in Deering Common.

College of the Atlantic has approximately 350 undergraduate students, with 50% living on campus, the Princeton Review said.

5. St. Olaf College
5. St. Olaf College

During the St. Olaf Christmas Festival, students from St. Olaf College's choir and music ensembles participate in the popular event -- and so does campus dining by serving traditional Norwegian food to students and alumni who return to share in the festivities, according to students on the Princeton Review.

Sourcing local is also a priority to the school, which is located in Northfield, Minn. This includes buying vegetables and herbs from Stogrow, the college's student-run organic farm, according to its Web site.

St. Olaf College's dining services are also operated by Bon Appétit Management. The school has approximately 3,000 undergraduate studentsm with 93% living on campus, the Princeton Review said.

4. Virginia Tech
4. Virginia Tech

With a student body as large as Virginia Tech's -- nearly 25,000 undergraduate students with 37% living on campus -- the college, located in Blacksburg, Va., has to be on its food game.

Through a partnership with its College of Agriculture and Life Sciences' Kentland Farm, the school's dining services "offers fresh, local produce to students from our very own garden," it said.

The school recently implemented using reusable to-go containers and is in the process of adding more of its Ozzi collection units to campus.

3. Cornell University
3. Cornell University

Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., has 29 eateries for its students, including its own bakery outlet, Sweet Sensations; hotspot Green Dragon; and the Cornell Dairy Bar, offering homemade ice cream, milk, yogurt and cheddar cheese, all produced at Cornell's dairy processing plant,.

Cornell University has approximately 14,000 undergraduate students, with 55% living on campus, the Princeton Review said.

2. Bowdoin College
2. Bowdoin College

Eating well at Bowdoin College, located in Brunswick, Maine, shouldn't be a problem at the small liberal arts school. On a recent dinner menu at Thorne Hall and Moulton Union, cooked lobster and a kale, Maine blueberry and apple salad with cranberry vinaigrette were among the options.

The college said its in-house meat shop uses only grass-fed beef for hamburgers. Organic vegetables, fruits and herbs come from its Bowdoin Organic Garden. The school notes that it also eliminated most trans fats and high fructose corn syrup from dining hall menus.

Bowdoin College has approximately 1,800 undergraduate students, with 91% living on campus, the Princeton Review said.

1. University of Massachusetts
1. University of Massachusetts

The University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Mass., ranks No. 1 on the Princeton Review's top campus foods list. With approximately 23,000 students -- and that's just at its main campus -- UMass has four dining commons, 18 retail cafes, Kosher and Halal options, two food trucks, a bakeshop and concession stands.

Check out the Chobani yogurt bar at Harvest Market, sushi from Wasabi or Vietnamese from Star Ginger. And make sure to stop by Baby Berk, one of the school's two food trucks, serving Baby Berk Burgers, Wasabi Steak Tacos and sweet potato fries.

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