Dining Services ranks No. 1 in country for second consecutive year

Linda Stocum

For the second year in a row, Kent State Dining Services was ranked as the number one college dining experience according to collegerank.net, surpassing universities such as Yale, Harvard and Brown.

The Division of Student services defined the Collegerank as, “An independent organization whose mission is to make it easier for students and parents to identify the best college for their individual needs and preferences.”

Universities were ranked in four key categories: versatility, nutrition and wellness, sustainability and accessibility.

There are multiple reasons that Dining Services ranked number one on the list for the second time in a row.

Richard Roldan, director of Dining Services, said the experience students have in dining halls on campus is what ranked Kent State Dining Services as number one on the list, and that the University was selected because of its diverse dining options and emphasis on health and wellness initiatives.

“I think, truly, it is just the overall experience for students, the flexibility of the program, the options that are available,” Roldan said. “There are so many options whether you’re a heavy meat eater or someone who chooses to be vegan or vegetarian.”

Roldan also said Kent State provides unique dining opportunities for students with allergy restrictions in addition to offering diverse dining experiences representative of other cultures.

Among diverse dining experiences include dining events such as Soul food and Bistro Fine Dining that are featuring new dining options.

“I like the Soul food night the best,” said Logan Lutton, a sophomore photojournalism major. “Mac and cheese, fried chicken and a live band, how can eating get any better?”

Lutton also said he enjoys having unique dining options at different locations across campus.

“If I want a waffle, I will go to Rosie’s since they have them all the time, but if I am more in the mood for wings, I go straight to Quaker,” Lutton said.

Diverse options are partly due to the university’s mission of bettering health and wellness through university-wide health initiatives prioritizing student health.

According to the Division of Student Affairs annual report, “The University Dining Services offers healthy choices such as the Mindful program, which emphasizes healthy cooking techniques that maximize flavor while minimizing calories, fat and sodium, and make available a registered dietician to offer nutritional guidance.”

The Mindful program includes Dining Services events such as Mindful Monday and the Mindful Mile.

In addition to health and wellness initiatives, Dining Services also focuses on their environmental impact by prioritizing sustainability.

According to the Dining Services website, they encourage sustainability through the availability of Ozzi reusable to-go boxes, only available at Prentice, instead of just cardboard ones that have to be thrown out after every use.

There are also reusable water bottles for sale at the registers of several dining halls and sustainable shopping bags available for purchase instead of having to use plastic ones.

The Division of Student Affairs annual report explained why the Kent State Dining Services excelled in the area of accessibility.

“In selecting Kent State for the top position, College Rank cited the abundance of vegetarian and vegan dining options available, as well as its unique Veggie-A-Go-Go program, which allows students to place call-ahead takeout orders for vegan and vegetarian items,” the report said.

Anna Mika, a junior anthropology major, said options like these are helpful as an individual who is lactose intolerant and on a vegan diet.

“With my dietary needs, it can be hard to order anywhere,” Mika said. “Thankfully I have options on campus that make ordering and eating easier. Even at places like Quaker, I can find something to eat.”

The addition of Prentice Cafe as a gluten-free dining facility is also cited as a key reason Kent State was selected as the best dining experience in the country.

“Kent State University is honored to be the first Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) Certified full dining location on a college campus in the U.S,” The Dining Services website said. “Prentice Cafe prides itself on being a safe-zone for students with gluten intolerance. If you are an advocate of healthy living, gluten-free, vegan or vegetarian you will enjoy our gluten-free and Wellness zone.”

In addition to these amenities, Roldan also said Dining Services won multiple awards over the past few years including recognition from Peeta who gave Kent State an A+ rating.

“I’ve seen a lot of recognition for the program,” Roldan said. “This year we broke the top 100 for Niche.com, we are number 91 of over 1,300 campuses in the country as well, and we have been trying to get into the Princeton review.”

Roldan said Kent State is always looking for ways to improve, and with the new dining partner, positive changes to Dining Services will continue to occur.