It’s tradition to complain about college food. However, the editors and researchers of The Daily Meal have come up with a list of praiseworthy food programs for their “75 Best Colleges for Food in America for 2015” rankings. Three of the five New York State colleges on the list, which was announced on Thursday, are in Upstate, ranking behind a pair of New York City schools — Columbia University, which finished second overall only to Maine’s Bowdoin College, and New York University at No. 7.
The Upstaters are Cornell (No. 11), the University of Rochester (No. 22), and St. Lawrence University (No. 60). The judges considered such items as nutrition and sustainability, accessibility and service, education and events, and accessibility to good food in the surrounding area. And, of course, something called the “X” factor, described as, “little extras that made our jaws drop and prove that these colleges really go above and beyond and get genuinely creative.” The Daily Meal is an independent website containing original stories and images on all things food and drink.
This is not the only list of top colleges for foods. Among others are a ranking of the 50 “best” on BusinessInsider.com and a list of the 36 “best” on USAToday,com. Here’s a rundown of what The Daily Meal has to say about the Upstate schools:
Cornell University — “The dining services at Cornell University have increased the amount of locally and regionally grown and produced ingredients to comprise 22 percent of all food purchased, and the dining halls have implemented tray-less dining to prevent further waste. And no matter what your dietary preference, you can find it at Cornell, which has options for vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, kosher, halal, and Seventh Day Adventist diners. All that is pretty impressive, but not nearly as impressive as the events that are held throughout the year. Nutritionland, Peanut Butter Month, A Night Nutritionland, Peanut Butter Month, A Night at Hogwarts, Baseball Night, and Chinese New Year are just a few of the possibilities. On top of that, New York Times columnist Mark Bittman stopped by campus to talk about his book last year, and their chefs regularly medal at the National Association of College and University Food Services’ annual chef competition. But, probably one of the coolest things is the Cornell Dairy Bar, which serves milk, yogurt, pudding, and cheese all made from Cornell’s own dairy. Perhaps the fact that Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration is rated the No. 1 hospitality school in the nation is why the food program here is so good. The school clearly knows a thing or two about treating people well.”
University of Rochester — “The University of Rochester’s dining program makes efforts to be as sustainable, delicious, and fun as possible. Team Green is the team of student interns employed by the dining services whose sole purpose is to promote sustainability while dining, and on top of that, over 48 percent of all the ingredients served on campus are grown, raised, or wholly manufactured within New York State. The school has also been named a ‘Most Vegan Friendly University’ by PETA for three years and counting. Campus events include Meatless Mondays, D’Lions Dinner, the Chef Challenge, and the ever-popular Local Foods Week. But, if you ever go to the University of Rochester, you have to get a Garbage Plate. It may sound odd, but we assure you it is delicious. You get two sides — choose from macaroni salad, baked beans, home fries, or French fries — and then choose either two burgers or two hot dogs (or other protein options). Now imagine all of that piled together with meaty hot sauce, onions, and mustard, and you have a Garbage Plate. Students go crazy for it. A new burrito bowl station in their retail food court is also a huge hit.”
St. Lawrence University — “Even though sustainability and health are important to St. Lawrence, they also focus on exactly what it is the students want. With that in mind, they created the ‘Recipe from Home’ program, and it’s being going strong since 1987. The program encourages students to share family recipes to be served in the dining halls. Themed events throughout the year are a hit with students, like the Canadian Thanksgiving feast. And, don’t worry, St. Lawrence realizes that every once in a while students just need something greasy and comforting which is why the on-campus pub serves delicious fried snacks like mac and cheese bites and onion rings, and the dining halls’ huge ‘pub cookies’ are student favorites.”