The Commons

The best colleges for delicious, nutritious food

Name of Publication: 
The Washington Post
Excerpt of Article: 

Taste is highly subjective but The Daily Meal website has researched how well nearly 2,000 four-year colleges and universities around the country feed their students and have come up with a list of the 60 most delicious and nutritious food programs. And the winning school is Bowdoin College, a small liberal arts school in Brunswick, Maine, which uses vegetables from its own organic garden.

Four Virginia schools made the list, including one in the top 10! Virginia Tech was No. 3 on the list, with James Madison University at No. 24, the University of Richmond at No. 57 and William & Mary College at No. 58. Maryland made the list with one school — Johns Hopkins University at No. 42 — while the District got shut out.

The top schools were rated and ranked on the following criteria:

• Healthy Food/Local and Sustainable: The meals are made in-house from scratch as well as cooked in small batches, and the school is committed to teaching their students the benefits of buying locally and maintaining healthy lifestyles.

• Accessibility and Service: The number of eateries on campus along with the daily hours, and how well these locations are taken care of.

• Events/Nutritional Education: Events are centered on food, and the dining halls help bring students together in an engaging way. Additionally, if they educated their students about nutrition through these events or on their Web site, it was a bonus.

• Student Feedback and Social Media: How well-received student requests or complaints are by the dining services, as well as the frequency that these pages are updated to inform their students about new additions or changes.

• The ‘X Factor’: Something unique and creative that differentiated the school’s dining services from the rest of the pack.

• Student Feedback/Social Media: While we still valued many of the things we noted from last year — for example, whether students are interested in trying new cuisines and spices as well as very invested in sustainable and local dining — there are still many schools that seemed to fall short when we evaluated their dining performances.

Therefore, we made student feedback and social media outlets the last category in our assessment this year. It seemed appropriate this time around to incorporate how well-received student requests or complaints are by the dining services, as well as the frequency that these pages are updated to inform their students about new additions or changes.

And the winners? Here are the top 15 and you can see the whole list here:

1. Bowdoin College, Maine

2. Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri

3. Virginia Tech, Virginia

4. Emory University, Georgia

5. UCLA, California

6. Cornell University, New York

7. UMass Amherst, Massachusetts

8. Kennesaw State University, Georgia

9. Tufts University, Massachusetts

10. Yale University, Connecticut

60 Best Colleges for Food in America for 2013

Name of Publication: 
The Daily Meal
Excerpt of Article: 

Another school year is finally upon us, and with it comes the reality that for many, many schools across America, the dining options are nothing short of grim at best. For many students who are reliant on a meal plan, the less said about the meals eaten in campus dining halls the better. But some colleges and universities go above and beyond in their efforts to serve fresh, wholesome meals to the students who are living and studying there. From a college in Vermont that only sources its food from local vendors to one in Massachusetts that hosts a farmers' market that’s entirely student-run, we tracked down the 60 best colleges for food in America.

60 Best Colleges for Food in America for 2013 (Slideshow)

Last summer, The Daily Meal conducted an eye-opening study, building on our previous ranking, that examined the most outstanding campus dining at nearly all of the approximately 2,000 four-year colleges across America. We discovered some schools that gave their students top-notch dining experiences, while others failed to pass even the most simple health inspections. However, in the end we found 52 clear winners that refused to accept the stigma that comes with collegiate dining, taking the ordinary campus meal and turning it into an extraordinary dining experience.

Sustainable Georgia: Healthy Campus Eating

Name of Publication: 
Georgia Trend
Excerpt of Article: 

For this month, I’ve taken a look at what college dining services are doing to beef up higher education sustainability programs. I’ve found an impressive array of approaches that are increasing the appeal of these institutions to students while sustaining Georgia’s ecology.

Echoing the greater restaurant sustainability movement, Georgia’s higher ed community is responding to consumer demand. Several institutions are leading the national pack and have the accolades to show it – none more so than Kennesaw State University. 

KSU has won a slew of awards, including 2013 Innovator of the Year and the Operator Innovations Award for Sustainability from the National Restaurant Association and the 2013 Residential Dining Concepts Silver Award and 2012 Bronze Award for Education and Out-reach from the National Association for Col-lege and University Food Services (NACUFS). The school made the Newsweek “Top 25 Col-leges for Food” in 2011.

Accessibility is a factor: The Commons at KSU, in the middle of the campus, is the na-tion’s largest LEED Gold-certified collegiate dining facility, serving global cuisine.

Another factor is taste: At The Commons, recipes are prepared in small batches to ensure low holding times and the freshest possible meals. Many items are made-to-order, using seasonal ingredients sourced locally. All food wastes are composted, and oil waste is sold as a biodiesel source.

Some 20 percent of the produce used by The Commons is grown on KSU’s farms, including Harmony Hill Organic Farm and Apiary, a two-acre organic farm just outside Cartersville, and Apple Springs Farm, a 40-acre property with 6,000 square feet of greenhouse space in Ball Ground.

Only non-GMO (genetically modified org-anism) heirloom varieties are cultivated, using natural methods of soil preparation, pest control and fertilization. Apiaries were added to both properties, and 48 honeybee colonies assist with open-pollinated varietals and make honey for The Commons. 

The spring-fed property in Ball Ground also features a solar-powered pump irrigation system, a mushroom garden and the Gover-nor’s Garden, where produce is cultivated exclusively for the Governor’s Mansion. Additional farm-to-campus plans include programs to produce cheese and organic dairy as well as olive oil on the farm.

KSU’s weekly Farmer’s Market is a student-driven event sponsored and supported by Culinary Services and R.C. Paul, director of sustainability for KSU. Started with a group from KSU’s Environmental Sustainability class, this initiative is overseen by the Students for Environmental Sustainability (SES) collaborating with the Department of Culinary and Hospitality Services.

Other campuses implementing sustainable student dining programs include Emory University, which has set an ambitious goal of 75 percent local or sustainably grown food in its hospitals and cafeterias by 2015.

Georgia Tech’s cafeteria has a Simply Sus-tainable Salad Bar with 80 percent local and/or organic produce, and the school uses 2,600 gallons of biofuel made from waste oil annually.

Life University recently opened Socrates Café, a zero-waste dining facility in which all food and drinks are served in compostable containers with biodegradable utensils.

The University of Georgia won the 2012 NACUFS Residential Dining Concepts Gold in the large school category for its programs: Much of the organic food used at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education is grown by students at the College of Agriculture & Environmental Sciences.

Mercer University, Georgia College and State University and Valdosta State University all boast farm-to-campus partnerships with local and regional agricultural communities, something the state is stressing with its Geor-gia Grown Program.

Gov. Nathan Deal signed HB 298 in April, creating the Agriculture Commodity Commis-sion for Georgia Grown products. The Georgia Restaurant Association has also partnered with the Department of Agriculture to promote and implement the Georgia Grown program. We hope these developments will intensify the momentum generated by the sustainable food movement as it fulfills its promise for better food and healthier Georgians.

Kennesaw State University among nation’s “Best College Dining Halls”

Dining Hall exterior

 

BestColleges.com gives The Commons kudos for sustainability, recycling and using fresh, locally grown products

KENNESAW, Ga. (June 27, 2013) — Recognizing a shift in college dining operations from “standard cafeteria-like settings, with lunch lines and trays full of nondescript and boring foods,” BestColleges.com has ranked Kennesaw State University’s The Commons Student Dining Hall among the nation’s best.

“Debunking the common perceptions of cafeterias in general, the colleges on this list are being recognized for going the extra mile to provide nutrient-rich and delicious food to all their students regardless of their diet,” states the website of BestColleges.com, an online resource for prospective college students. “The lunch lady in the kitchen stirring the mystery soup has been replaced at many colleges by an executive chef and well-trained kitchen staff, whose job each day is to create culinary masterpieces sure to delight any college student’s stomach.”

Such is the case at Kennesaw State’s The Commons, where nothing is cooked in advance. The Commons makes all soups from scratch, smokes its own meats and fish, makes its own pickles, and makes all breads in house, including sliced white and wheat breads.

“Just as students look at academic offerings when choosing a college or university, they are also looking at dining hall operations, in a way they didn’t before,” said Gary Coltek, director of Culinary and Hospitality Services. “Students care about where their food comes from and what happens to it once it gets here.”

In its ranking, BestColleges.com noted Kennesaw State grows its own hydroponic lettuce, herbs and shiitake mushrooms, and 20 percent of the produce used in The Commons is grown on campus. Vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options are available, including favorites like pizza, pasta and desserts.

Kennesaw State was the only public institution in Georgia to make the BestCollege.com rankings, but this isn’t The Commons or Culinary and Hospitality’s first – or only – national recognition.

Just last month, Kennesaw State won two national awards from the National Restaurant Association – the “Innovator of the Year” and Operator Innovations Award for Sustainability. Citing its “comprehensive, closed-loop waste management program” and “Farm to Campus to Farm” initiative, this was the first time an educational institution was selected to receive the prestigious Innovator of the Year award.

Beginning in 2011, Kennesaw State was ranked among the top 25 schools for best food by Newsweek. That nod was followed by a string of accolades beginning last summer when Kennesaw State joined Stanford and the University of Massachusetts in receiving top honors from the National Association of College and University Food Services (NACUFS) for sustainability outreach and education. In September, The Daily Meal, an online publication dedicated to culinary trends and news, ranked Culinary and Hospitality Services 10thin its “52 Best Colleges for Food in America.” Just two months ago, Kennesaw State received a prestigious NACUFS Loyal E. Horton Award for its dining hall, The Commons.

The university’s 5,000-guests-per-day dining hall operation maintains its healthy focus with a farm-to-campus-to-farm approach. Kennesaw State harvests honey from 42 bee colonies and grows heirloom varieties of vegetables and herbs on a 2-acre organic farm. The food served in The Commons is either eaten or composted and then taken to one of the University’s three farms to be used as fertilizer. Plans include programs to produce aged cheese and organic dairy, olive orchards and oil press on the farm, as well as adding chickens this fall to produce cage-free eggs.

By Jennifer Hafer

# # #

 

Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia, offering 80 graduate and undergraduate degrees, including doctorates in education, business and nursing, and a new Ph.D. in international conflict management. A member of the University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive, residential institution with a growing population of 24,600 students from more than 130 countries.

Kennesaw State first to offer new degree in Culinary Sustainability & Hospitality

Dining Hall exterior

Innovative program will be housed in the WellStar College of Health and Human Services

KENNESAW, Ga. (April 18, 2013) —A new bachelor’s degree in Culinary Sustainability and Hospitality at Kennesaw State University moves the farm-to-table concept from the plate to the bottom line, looking at the economic advantages of implementing sustainable practices throughout the food service industry.

This week the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia approved the new interdisciplinary degree, which will be administered by Kennesaw State’s newly formed Institute for Culinary Sustainability and Hospitality.

“Kennesaw State leads the way in offering unique and relevant degree programsto serve our students and the employers who hire our graduates,” said President Daniel S. Papp. “The culinary field is a high-growth, high-demand market, and we are well positioned to offer a cutting-edge program that will attract outstanding students, as well as strong industry support.”

Designed by top industry experts, the bachelor’s degree program has been shaped to offer a unique approach to the study of culinary and hospitality management – infusing the curriculum with knowledge in sustainability, while also emphasizing food science, nutritional analysis, resource conservation, and essential business skills and abilities.

“In a restaurant context, a dollar in energy savings equates to $12.50 in restaurant sales, which at an 8 percent margin, increases the restaurant’s profitability without touching turnover or menu pricing,” said Christian Hardigree, director of Kennesaw State’s Institute for Culinary Sustainability and Hospitality. “In the culinary and hospitality industries there is a lot of talk about sustainability on the plate, but we need to enhance education of sustainability beyond the plate.”

Organizers expect to enroll 150 students in the program’s first year and upwards of 400 students in the fourth year. The first two courses, “Introduction to Culinary Sustainability and Hospitality” and “World Cuisines and Culture,” will be offered this fall. In addition to their formal classroom studies, students will be required to complete 600 hours of hands-on experience as they complete their course work.

Graduates of the innovative new degree program will be prepared to implement and manage sustainable practices in restaurants, hospitals, adult and child care facilities, food manufacturing and distribution, hotels and airlines, to name a few career options.

“The goal of this Institute is to be the epicenter for teaching and research as it relates to sustainable practices in culinary and hospitality management,” Hardigree said. “The typical American meal travels 1,500 miles to your plate, and it contains ingredients from five different countries. From all perspectives, buying local is better.”

One of the differentiators of the new degree program is the partnership it will have with Kennesaw State’s award-winning Culinary and Hospitality Services Department, which is renowned for its efforts in sustainability in its food service operation. The Culinary and Hospitality Services operates The Commons student dining hall and oversees the university’s “farm-to-table” food program.

“The academic program is designed so our students can intern with Culinary and Hospitality Services on campus, ensuring graduates will have consistency in their skill sets, and we will know the level of sustainability being taught through those internships,” Hardigree said.

Through its farm-to-table program, Kennesaw State harvests honey from 42 bee colonies, and grows herbs and heirloom variety fruits and vegetables on 65 acres across three organic campus farms, which the university owns or operates. Future plans include programs to produce aged cheese and organic dairy, olive orchards and an oil press on the farm.

“Students in Kennesaw State’s Institute for Culinary Sustainability and Hospitality will have opportunities here that they can’t get at other culinary schools — like bee keeping, hydroponics and water reclamation,” said Gary Coltek, the university’s director of Culinary and Hospitality Services. “Sustainability is what the Institute is all about, and that’s what we live here every day.”

Just as The Commons procures its food locally, Coltek looks forward to the day when aspiring culinary professionals in Cobb County don’t have to look further than their own backyard for an education.Cobb County is home to 16 high school culinary programs whose students, talent and tuition have gone elsewhere in the past. There are 80 such programs statewide.

“Hospitality is the second largest industry in the state, and we want to keep our talent local,” Coltek said.

Just last month the National Restaurant Association recognized Kennesaw State’s Department of Culinary and Hospitality Services as one of three finalists for the 2013 Operator Innovations Award in Sustainability.

In 2012, Kennesaw State University was listed in Princeton Review’s “Guide to 322 Green Colleges.”

Other recent accolades for the department and The Commons include top honors from the National Association of College and Food Services for sustainability outreach and education; a 10thplace ranking in The Daily Meal’s “52 Best Colleges for Food in America”; and a top 25 ranking by Newsweek for best food on a college campus.

-- By Jennifer Hafer

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Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia, offering 80 graduate and undergraduate degrees, including doctorates in education, business and nursing, and a new Ph.D. in international conflict management. A member of the University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive, residential institution with a growing population of 24,600 students from more than 130 countries.

Kennesaw State University finalist for National Restaurant Association’s 2013 Operator Innovations Awards

Dining Hall exterior

Culinary and Hospitality Services recognized as an innovator in sustainability

KENNESAW, Ga. (April 1, 2013) —An independent panel of foodservice operators from across the industry has selected Kennesaw State University’s Culinary and Hospitality Services as one of three finalists for the 2013 Operator Innovations Awards in Sustainability.

“Traditionally, the National Restaurant Association has focused on the restaurant side of the food industry, so we’re thrilled they have created avenues for college and university dining to be recognized,” said Gary Coltek, director of Culinary and Hospitality Services, which manages all food service operations at Kennesaw State. “The nomination alone is an honor and is a testament to our commitment to sustainability.”

In naming the University a finalist, the National Restaurant Association cited: “The University’s 5,000 guest/day dining operation incorporates a comprehensive, closed-loop waste management program through a variety of efforts, including a robust organic "Farm-to-Campus-to-Farm" program, water reclamation, aerobic digestion, composting/recycling programs, oil-to-biodiesel conversion and more to significantly reduce costs, minimize environmental impact and qualify the facility for a LEED Gold certification.”

“We’re giving the students what they want,” Coltek said. “Our students are very savvy. They want to know where their food comes from; how it gets here; and what we do with it once it does get here. Hopefully, we can inspire other universities to do the same thing.”

Three finalists in five distinct categories: Food Safety, Health and Nutrition, Menu Development, Sustainability and Technology will be brought to Chicago for the 2013 National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Showin May. The winners in each category, as well as an “Innovator of the Year” selected from all finalists, will be announced live in Chicago during the Destination: Celebration gala on Saturday, May 18.

“Restaurant operators are coming up with new and better ways to do business every day,” said Jeffrey W. Davis, Convention Chair for NRA Show 2013 and IWSB and CEO of the United States Beef Corporation. “The prestigious Operator Innovations Awards celebrate and drive continued advancement industry-wide, fueling customer satisfaction and profitability. We recognize their achievements with the Operator Innovations Awards. Earning one of these highly sought-after awards means bragging rights and publicity for years to come.”

Through its farm-to-campus program, Kennesaw State harvests honey from 42 bee colonies and grows herbs and heirloom variety fruits and vegetables on 65 acres across three organic campus farms. Future plans include programs to produce aged cheese and organic dairy, olive orchards and an oil press on the farm.

The National Restaurant Association recognition is the latest in a string of accolades for Culinary and Hospitality Services.

Last summer, Kennesaw State joined Stanford and the University of Massachusetts in receiving top honors from the National Association of College and University Food Services for sustainability outreach and education. In September, The Daily Meal, an online publication dedicated to culinary trends and news, ranked Culinary and Hospitality Services 10th in its “52 Best Colleges for Food in America.” Kennesaw State was also listed in The Princeton Review’s “Guide to 322 Green Colleges” in 2012.

In addition, in 2011 Kennesaw State was ranked among the top 25 schools for best food by Newsweek.

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Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia, offering 80 graduate and undergraduate degrees, including doctorates in education, business and nursing, and a new Ph.D. in international conflict management. A member of the University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive, residential institution with a growing population of 24,600 students from more than 130 countries.

 

The annual National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show is the largest single gathering of restaurant, foodservice and lodging professionals. NRA Show 2013 will be held May 18-21 at McCormick Place in Chicago, and the 2013 International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event held in conjunction with the NRA Show will take place May 19-20. The events attract 61,000+ attendees and visitors from all 50 states and 100+ countries, and showcases the latest products, services, innovative ideas, up-to-the-minute information about trends and issues and more growth opportunities than any other industry event. For more information, visit the Show and IWSB websites at Restaurant.org/Show and WineSpiritsBeer.org.

Contact: Jennifer Hafer, 770-423-6711, jhafer@kennesaw.edu

 

Best Colleges for Food in America

Name of Publication: 
Fox News
Excerpt of Article: 

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the fall 2012 Semester.

By now, undergrads across America have moved into dorms, tossed the semester's first Frisbees on the quad, and played awkward ice-breakers on the first day of English 101. While making new friends, settling in, and paying attention in class are important pursuits, locating — and experiencing — the dining hall should be a top priority. And discovering which schools have the best ones has been ours.

No. 10 Kennesaw State University (Kennesaw, Ga.)
If cranberry cornbread muffins, vegetarian pho soup, and Louisiana seafood gumbo sound like your thing, this Georgia school may be just right for you. Gary Coltek, the director of culinary and hospitality services, shares that freshness is a top priority. "Everything we do is in small batches — we cook nothing in advance." Incredible, considering the number of colleges that rely on heat lamps to keep food palatable.

Campus dining is run by about 250 people, and gets rave reviews from students. With 132 countries represented on campus, dining services is eager to get recipes from home to incorporate. Organic vegetables are used, and the meat — beef, pork, lamb — all come from single source farms.

In addition, the university puts together events like Sundae Sunday, the KSU famers market, and a lunch celebrating the cuisine of India.

On the evolution of college dining, Coltek says, "…the Food Network has made our business a sexy business." He explains that students know what they want to eat, and that KSU strives to teach them where their food comes from.

KSU named "Green College"

Name of Publication: 
Kennesaw Patch
Excerpt of Article: 

With Earth Day fast-approaching, Kennesaw State University has been named one of the nation's most environmentally responsible "green colleges" by The Princeton Review.

KSU among nation's most environmentally responsible campuses

The Princeton Review's Green Colleges Guide 2012

LEED-certified buildings and sustainable food initiatives at student dining hall lead green initiatives

As Kennesaw State University gears up to celebrate Earth Day on April 23, The Princeton Review has named the university one of the nation’s most environmentally responsible “green colleges.”

The Princeton Review’s “Guide to 322 Green Colleges” profiles 320 institutions of higher education in the U.S. and two in Canada that demonstrate a strong commitment to sustainability in their academic offerings, campus infrastructure, activities and career preparation. Noted institutions received a score of 83 or better out of a possible 99 points. This is KSU’s second consecutive year on the list.

“A growing number of students look at green ratings as part of their choice criteria,” KSU Sustainability Director R.C. Paul said. “Kennesaw State is becoming a school of choice, and I think this rating is something that can add to the university’s appeal.”

To produce the third annual edition of the free guidebook, The Princeton Review partnered with the United States Green Building Council, a national nonprofit organization best known for developing the LEED green building certification program.

LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, certification provides independent, third-party verification that a building was designed and built using strategies aimed at achieving high performance in key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality .

According to Paul, KSU has two fully certified LEED green buildings on campus – the Social Sciences Building and The Commons Student Culinary Center; one that’s in the process of being certified – Prillaman Hall ; and a fourth under construction – the Science Laboratory Addition.

“From fiscal year 2008 to fiscal year 2010, we experienced 8 percent growth in our student population, but only 1 percent growth in greenhouse gas emissions,” Paul said. “The biggest declines came in emissions per student, which dropped by 9 percent, and emissions per square foot.”

Paul, who was named sustainability director in 2008, credits facilities, planning and The Commons with doing the most to green the campus. The LEED-certified buildings and The Commons’ 100 acres of farmland, which supplies organic, locally grown fruits and vegetables to the student dining hall, are all feathers in the university’s green cap.

The single biggest challenge facing the university’s green efforts, however, continues to be single-occupancy vehicles, Paul said, noting the new shuttle system is helping reduce the university’s carbon footprint.

Another small step forward: the university’s Earth Day festivities, which are being held Monday, April 23, on the Campus Green. There will be live music, giveaways, games and recycling for old computers, printers, cellphones and other electronic devices that shouldn’t be landfilled.

“KSU can and should be at the vanguard in promoting sustainability and environmental awareness in this region,” Paul said. “The Princeton Review rating acknowledges that we’ve begun to make progress in this endeavor.”

By Jennifer Hafer

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