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The 20 Colleges with the Best Food

Andrew Lumby

High-schoolers and their parents have to weigh dozens of factors when selecting which of America's 4,726 institutions of higher learning they'd like to attend. There are the obvious academic considerations: the size of the classes, the average SAT score of the students, the average salary of graduating seniors. The overall culture of the school is clearly a factor too, as are the location, school size and costs.

Other important factors often get overlooked, though - like the food. Few superhuman students can easily balance a class schedule, extracurriculars and cook for themselves, meaning most will probably be consigned to eating the campus food for four years. You know what that means: grumpy cafeteria workers, indiscernable slop and plastic trays.

Or does it? Campus dining has seen something of a renaissance lately, as college administrators come to realize that attractive food options can be a sizable draw for new students. After all, it's hard to focus during an all-nighter if you're dealing with constant stomach pangs.

Thankfully, the folks at Niche, a handy site that rates colleges based on a whole array of factors, put together a list of the colleges with the best on-campus dining experiences. They looked at survey responses from students and alumni as well as Department of Education data on meal plan costs. We've collected their top 20 schools here, and wound up feeling very, very hungry in the process.


1. Virginia Tech

Location: Blacksburg, VA

Average Meal Plan Cost: $3,470

Student Surveys on Campus Dining: 4.6 out of 5

2. Washington University in St. Louis

Location: St. Louis, MO

Average Meal Plan Cost: $4,550

Student Surveys on Campus Dining: 4.6 out of 5


3. UCLA

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Average Meal Plan Cost: N/A

Student Surveys on Campus Dining: 4.3 out of 5


4. Bowdoin College

Location: Brunswick, ME

Average Meal Plan Cost: $6,598

Student Surveys on Campus Dining: 4.7 out of 5

5. James Madison University

Location: Harrisonburg, VA

Average Meal Plan Cost: $4,422

Student Surveys on Campus Dining: 4.3 out of 5


6. University of Georgia

Location: Athens, GA

Average Meal Plan Cost: $3,956

Student Surveys on Campus Dining: 4.2 out of 5

7. Gustavus Adolphus College

Location: St. Peter, MN

Average Meal Plan Cost: $3,230

Student Surveys on Campus Dining: 4.4 out of 5



8. Bates College

Location: Lewiston, ME

Average Meal Plan Cost: N/A

Student Surveys on Campus Dining: 4.5 out of 5


9. University of Notre Dame

Location: South Bend, IN

Average Meal Plan Cost: N/A

Student Surveys on Campus Dining: 4.1 out of 5


10. UC Davis

Location: Davis, CA

Average Meal Plan Cost: N/A

Student Surveys on Campus Dining: 4.0 out of 5

11. Middlebury College

Location: Middlebury, VT

Average Meal Plan Cost: N/A

Student Surveys on Campus Dining: 4.2 out of 5


12. Wesleyan University

Location: Middletown, CT

Average Meal Plan Cost: N/A

Student Surveys on Campus Dining: 4.2 out of 5


13. California Baptist University

Location: Riverside, CA

Average Meal Plan Cost: $4,430

Student Surveys on Campus Dining: 4.2 out of 5

14. Cornell University

Location: Ithaca, NY

Average Meal Plan Cost: $5,566

Student Surveys on Campus Dining: 4.2 out of 5



15. Wheaton College

Location: Wheaton, IL

Average Meal Plan Cost: $3,620

Student Surveys on Campus Dining: 4.4 out of 5

16. UMASS Amherst

Location: Amherst, MA

Average Meal Plan Cost: $5,320

Student Surveys on Campus Dining: 4.2 out of 5


17. University of San Diego

Location: San Diego, CA

Average Meal Plan Cost: N/A

Student Surveys on Campus Dining: 4.0 out of 5


18. University of New Hampshire

Location: Durham, NH

Average Meal Plan Cost: $4,584

Student Surveys on Campus Dining: 4.1 out of 5


19. St. Olaf College

Location: Northfield, MN

Average Meal Plan Cost: $4,920

Student Surveys on Campus Dining: 4.4 out of 5

20. University of Scranton

Location: Scranton, PA

Average Meal Plan Cost: $5,462

Student Surveys on Campus Dining: 4.3 out of 5

See the rest of the list at Niche.

This article has been updated to correct the location of Bates College.