Back to school time is here, and for a few thousand college freshmen the dreaded Freshman 15 is looming. I remember college when a burrito with salsa qualified as a good wholesome meal with a serving of vegetables, and in the on campus dining halls the meal choices were typically covered in cheese or deep fried. But the new generation of college students are a much more concerned with their health and wellness.
A recent poll by Technomic yielded surprising results regarding college-aged students and their dining preferences. When asked about their school's dining program, only 28% of students claimed to be satisfied with the healthy offerings at their school.
Some trends Technomic includes in the new report include:
• Customization is an increasingly critical issue for college diners: nearly half of students polled (47%) said it is important that they can omit or substitute ingredients in their food.
• 21% of students limit their meat consumption by sticking to a vegetarian or vegan diet, eating only certain types of meat, or eating meat only occasionally.
• "Operators on and off campus could attract more students and increase the frequency of visits by refining their menus based on students’ desires.”
Talk about the student becoming the teacher: campus kitchens and restaurant operators alike can take a lesson from these results.
What can your restaurant do to easily cater to this demographic?
• Encourage the concept of customization. Consider a “build your own,” or a “you pick the combo,” option.
• Offer meat-free or meat substitutes as alternatives for vegetarians.
• Make nutrition information available for all or a select group of menu items, marking certain selections as lighter options.
So Long Top Ramen!