College students: "Give us healthier food."

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. 


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! 

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  • Thank you for sharing Alyson.  I spend a lot of time on college campuses.  I have not seen the students walk the talk yet when it comes to eating healthy.  I hope thing change this year.  One thing that would lend to eating healthy would be if they sat down and ate their food vs. eating while walking to their next activity.
  • Hey Alyson- This is really interesting. I graduated from a college located in the midst of two metropolitan areas. The biggest thing to do was go out- go out to eat, go out to hang out, go out to drink. We were constantly looking for a spot to spend our (little) money. As a result restaurants and bar in the area catered specifically to our demographic. At the time we weren't nearly as concerned as these new stats reveal- I wonder how it will change their menus and marketing. Thanks for sharing!
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