Top 10 Things to Consider Regarding College Dining Trends

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College Dining Trends

The college dining experience is a key part of the campus culture, and the trends that shape that experience have a major effect on the campus life of students. Understanding foodservice-related trends helps the tremendous foodservice professionals on campus to manage their commitments and plan ahead. Foodservice market intelligence is one way in which college administrators and foodservice professionals stay informed on upcoming changes and trends, such as new menu items, restaurant technology, and marketing strategies, to make sure their college dining program is up-to-date and relevant. Here is a top 10 list of things to consider regarding college dining trends to help ensure a successful, current, and vibrant dining atmosphere on college campuses:

1. Nutrition: Colleges and universities have increasingly become aware of the need to provide nutritious, balanced, and flavorful dining options to keep students healthy and energized. As a result, many college dining programs include a variety of fresh, locally-sourced, and sustainably-sourced food options to ensure students get the nourishment they need.

2. Food Trends: Determining the next food trend and bringing it into a college dining program can be the key ingredient to creating a successful dining program. To keep up with the changing food landscape and appeal to different student preferences, college dining programs should always incorporate the latest food trends, such as plant-based proteins, ancient grains, and seasonal ingredients.

3. Technology: Restaurant technology is becoming increasingly important in college dining programs. Innovative technologies, such as self-ordering kiosks, mobile ordering, digital menu boards, and robotic kitchen systems, are rapidly becoming more prevalent in college dining halls. Utilizing restaurant technology can help make operations more efficient and improve the overall student experience.

4. Menu Variety: Serving the same dishes over and over can make student appetites for your college dining hall wane. Menu variety and rotation can bring new flavors, ingredients, and appeal to the dining options. It can also take advantage of local and seasonal ingredients.

5. Food Waste Management: Food waste is a critical issue on college campuses. Dining programs can reduce food waste by implementing a pre-order system, utilizing digital menu boards, offering smaller portions, and developing educational campaigns to help educate students on strategies that may help reduce food waste on their campus.

6. Plant-Based and Vegan Menu: More and more colleges are introducing plant-based and vegan menu items. As veganism and plant-based diets become more popular, vegan menu items can provide an enjoyable and healthful alternative for students.

7. Sustainable Practices: Sustainable practices are becoming more and more important. College dining programs can implement sustainable practices, such as utilizing reusable items (like mugs, water bottles, and to-go containers), sourcing ingredients locally and sustainably, and composting food waste.

8. Special Diet Recipes: Special diets have become increasingly popular on college campuses. College dining programs should consider offering recipes that are allergy-friendly, gluten-free, and Low-FODMAP, to accommodate special dietary needs.

9. Food and Beverage Education: Nutrition education is another great way for college dining programs to help students stay informed about healthy eating habits. Utilizing resources like nutrition classes, workshops, cooking classes, or even interactive events can help raise awareness of important nutrition information.

10. Focus on the Student Experience: Ultimately, the focus should be on creating a memorable student experience. College dining programs should take the time to accommodate the needs of the diverse student body and create a unique dining atmosphere. Incorporating music, events, entertainment, and activities into the college dining experience can make it stand out from all the rest.

By understanding the key elements of the college dining experience and being mindful of the latest trends, college dining programs can position themselves to be successful in revolutionizing campus life. With the help of foodservice market intelligence, college administrators and foodservice professionals can get the up-to-date data they need to make informed decisions about their dining programs.