Monday, June 1, 2015

Bon'App Campus Food Investigation - First Results

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By Tori Lin, Tufts University

This past year, Bon’App’s Campus Ambassadors set out to begin CFI (Campus Food Investigation). In doing so, the ambassadors distributed a survey, which asked students to rate their campus’s dining hall food on a 1-5 scale. In addition, students told us what options they had on campus, and expressed what they loved and hated about it.  Here at Bon’App, we got to hear from a total of 457 students from 27 colleges across the country. These 27 colleges included, Babson, Berkeley, Berry College, Boston College, Brown, Bryn Mawr, Cal Poly, Gonzaga, Harvard, HULT, James Madison, Miami Oxford, North Carolina State, Northwestern, NYU, Pomona, Simmons, Stanford, Swarthmore, Tufts, Tulane, U of Florida, University of Alabama, UPenn, USF, Virginia Tech, and Wesleyan. Based on the averages of student ratings, the chart below illustrates how each college stacked up against each other (excluding those with too few responses).

Respondents' Campus Food Ratings (Scale 1-5)
Only colleges with greater than 3 responses are displayed.

Top 10 Colleges with the Best Food (Bon’App Campus Food Investigation Edition)
   1.   Tufts University (Medford, MA)
   Score: 4.13
   2.   Wesleyan University (Middletown, CT)
   Score: 3.88
   3.   Miami University (Oxford, OH)
   Score: 3.8
   4.   Stanford University (Stanford, CA)
   Score: 3.7
   5.   HULT International Business School (Cambridge, MA)
   Score: 3.67
   6.   Harvard University (Cambridge, MA)
   Score: 3.32
   7.   Brown University (Providence, RI)
   Score: 3.21
   8.   UC Berkeley (Berkeley, CA)
   Score: 3.08
   9.   Boston College (Chestnut Hill, MA)
   Score: 3.07
   10. Northwestern University (Evanston, IL)
   Score: 2.83

Top 5 Colleges with the Worst Food
   1.   Cal Poly (San Luis Obispo, CA)
   Score: 1.92
   2.   Tulane (New Orleans, LA)
   Score: 2.22
   3.   Babson College (Babson Park, MA)
   Score: 2.36
   4.   University of San Francisco (San Francisco, CA)
   Score: 2.5
   5.   Simmons College (Boston, MA)
   Score: 2.55

Here are what some of the students had to say about their dining experience:

The Good:
“I love that we have nutritional signage. Also the fact that Tufts dining is super accommodating to the students and they always respond to feedback. –Student @Tufts

“Many of the workers are friendly and sweet. The deli bar and comfort food bar are normally pretty decent.” –Student @Tulane

“I love their roasted Brussels sprouts (which happen like once every 1.5 months). I like that they have 3 soup varieties and clearly label the vegan (dairy free) options!” –Student @Brown

“I love that there are always vegan and vegetarian options.  Some of my favorite items have been sweet potatoes, roasted butternut squash, and coconut pumpkin tofu.” Student @UPenn

“There are always vegetarian and healthier options and a lot of time they stay away from the worst foods. They also have a super varied meal schedule and always have something good to eat. Finally, they really splurge and get some delicious foods and ingredients. Overall, I am pretty spoiled with my dining hall system here.” –Student @Stanford

The Bad:
“There are some nights when there's barely a healthy option in sight and sometimes the vegetarian options are pretty out there. When the one healthy item is cooked poorly or just doesn't taste good, it makes the unhealthy items even more tempting.” Student @Harvard

“Like every person, I like fried and oily food but not all the time. Everything is covered in oil; even the vegetables/omelets are swimming in it.” Student @Tulane

“The salad and fresh produce are rarely fresh. The meats are full of hormones, antibiotics, nitrates, nitrites, and preservatives. There is no reason to pay thousands of dollars a year for a meal plan that is clearly full of carcinogens.” Student @UPenn

“Most of the “healthier” foods have a lot of oils that stay in my mouth and make you feel a little unsettled later in the day.” –Student @Stanford

“Meals are prepared with tons of butter and oils, trying to spruce up the terrible taste of the actually low-quality food. The coffee is also horrendous. We pay around $17 per meal, and I would expect better quality food, as far as health and just taste.” Student @Harvard

The Ugly:

“The meat is barely meat (cartilage, fat, everything). The vegetables are ALWAYS undercooked, except on one occasion when they were so overcooked that they turned to mush. 95% is gag-worthy.” Student @Cal Poly

“I refuse to eat in my dining hall because it makes me so sick. I walk in and instantly lose my appetite. I have overheard employees saying that the only thing safe to eat is the cereal because it comes straight from the box.”Student @Tulane

“The food tastes terrible and it's bad for you. I really have no incentive to eat it other than the fact that I need food to stay alive. The food, even the most innocent looking "healthy options" is full of salt, all types of fat, sugar, and a whole bunch of things that I can't pronounce that I know isn't good for me.” Student @Harvard

“I love that I will get to stop eating at the dining halls next year.” Student @Cal Poly

Things Students want to see change:

“I wish calorie counts/other nutritional information was available on everything, and more visible/accessible on the items that it's already available for. It'd be really nice if almond milk was available as well as soy.” Student @Brown

“I think that there could be more variety instead of having the same specials each week.” Student @Wesleyan

“Although the food at the vegan bar is typically pretty good, it runs out very quickly and it often takes a long time to be replenished.  Also, the soymilk dispenser is often empty.  I wish there were higher quality, whole grain breads (as opposed to just sandwich bread), in addition to other whole grains like whole-wheat pasta and brown rice more often.” Student @Upenn

“All of the cereals are so sugary!! I wish they had more organic, gluten free, and natural cereals. Also, I wish that they had nuts and dried fruits!” Student @Tufts

“I like that there are a lot of options, especially the salad bar and the grill. I feel like I can eat relatively healthy all the time because I can eat off the salad bar, order egg whites from the grill, snack on baby carrots and hummus, get Greek yogurt as dessert, etc. I would love it if there were even more healthy options to choose from, especially in the hot food line.” Student @Harvard

Show us what your dining hall has to offer you, whether good, bad, or ugly. Get our attention by using #campusfoodbonapp on Instagram and interacting with us via our CFI Facebook page.  For more information check out our earlier blog that illustrates Bon’App’s Dream Dining Hall.

Interested in becoming a Bon’App Campus Ambassador? Reach out to us at:


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