Dining providers on getting students to eat on campus

By: | Issue: October, 2018
September 20, 2018

Aside from offering a variety of high-quality food, what is the most important thing colleges can do to encourage students to eat on campus?

“It is important to offer meal plans that provide flexibility across campus with a variety of high quality grab-and-go, retail and brand options. Mobile ordering platforms allow [students] to order ahead and pick up their meal without going off-site and paying cash. Students are seeking on-trend flavors and even more vegan and vegetarian dishes.  

—Deb Tripp, associate vice president, marketing, Aramark Higher Education

“Convenience and technology keep students on campus. Cashless, 24-hour micromarkets provide safe areas for students to purchase grab-and-go food, sundries and other essentials. New and existing dining areas are being developed and renovated to incorporate charging stations, allowing students to easily hook up electronics to learn, socialize and stay connected to the campus community. Menu ordering technology eliminates wait times in university retail operations with self-order kiosks and mobile software [for placing] food orders in advance.”

—Paul Kowalczyk, managing director for Aladdin (of the Elior North America Family of Companies)


LINK TO MAIN ARTICLE: 5 strategies for keeping students on campus for meals


“We recommend that colleges engage students with a dining experience that is similar or better than what they can get off campus, with an enhanced level of service and a personal touch. We do that by creating a space that speaks to students’ preferences and incorporates their favorite national brands, such as Starbucks, Chick-fil-A and Qdoba, and gives them multiple ways to pay that they can’t get off campus, such as flexible spending plans, block menu plans and declining payment options.” 

—Joe Scherer, vice president of sales and operations, Pedestal Foods

“Students have a lot going on in their lives, so it’s important to give them options when it comes to dining out. Considering the diversity of campus populations, that means offering a broad menu that includes culturally relevant foods. And with a lot of students short on time and money, it’s important to offer affordable meals that can be enjoyed whether the ultimate dining destination is at the restaurant or in a dorm room.” 

—Vanessa Fox, chief development officer, Jack in the Box

“Building community should be a central value at the core of any campus dining program. Dining halls serve as community spaces, study halls, meeting halls and classrooms. Of equal importance in support of this community-building goal should be location and visibility. Locating dining facilities in highly visible central campus locations facilitates engagement. Effective siting strategies often include building placement at the intersection of residential, academic or recreational sections of the campus, thereby directly connecting to physical ‘hub’ locations of student access and activity.” 

—Fiske Crowell, principal, Sasaki

“Dining facilities have increased their importance as social hubs on campus. Whether studying, socializing or relaxing, food brings people together for an authentic campus experience. It’s important to make every meal more than just a transaction, but an opportunity for interaction and engagement. Technology also plays an increasingly important factor in keeping students on campus and engaged. Today’s college students expect easy, secure and personalized experiences across a breadth of platforms.”

—Jodi Ludovici, senior director, global offer development, Sodexo Universities


Jodi Helmer is a North Carolina-based writer and frequent contributor to UB.