Trends Shaping Higher Education

Not Your Parents' Dining Hall: Dining options support special diets.

Dining options support special diets


Campus dining has seen an increase in dietary food trends — everything from lifestyle eating preferences (vegan, vegetarian, halal, kosher, paleo, organic and sustainable) to supporting the medical needs of customers with food allergies and sensitivities. The result is food service administrators working to meet these special dietary requirements. For example, last summer, administrators at University of California, Berkeley, opened a food station dedicated to serving kosher and halal food, as well as vegetarian and vegan options.

“As our customers become more diverse and their exposure to different culinary cuisines increases, they are more vocal in their expectations,” says Amy Beckstrom, MBA, CASP, executive director, Housing & Dining Services, University of Colorado Boulder, and NACUFS president. “Every year we are seeing an increase in students with food allergies, which are now considered by law a disability. This requires us to accommodate students with documented food allergies in such a manner as to allow them the opportunity to experience college life as close as possible to those who do not have a disability.

“By providing students an environment that is more inclusive and alleviating the stress of whether they can safely navigate a dining center to fulfill a basic life need, they are able to concentrate on their studies and other aspects of college,” Beckstrom continues. Equally important, parents are secure knowing that their students’ needs are being met.

For administrators, successfully addressing multiple dining trends serves as a marketing tool for student recruitment and retention, including recruitment of international students.