Northwestern ranked fifth-best college for food in online list


Daily file photo by Annabel Edwards

Northwestern was ranked the No. 5 “best college for food” on the food website The Daily Meal.

Olivia Exstrum, Assistant Summer Editor

Northwestern was ranked the No. 5 “best college for food” in an annual list published last week by food website The Daily Meal.

In its entry on NU, the website highlighted increasing use of local produce and Sodexo Dining Services events like Tour of Pork and Battle of the Chefs.

“The college is dedicated to showing their students a deliciously fun time, while still dedicating itself to the important issues of sustainability and nutrition,” according to The Daily Meal’s ranking.

In order to be considered for the list, universities had to submit an online form, said Eddie Skidmore, Sodexo area marketing coordinator. NU’s submission was about 20 pages long.

Skidmore said he believes NU’s variety of dining events earned the school its ranking.

“It was really nice to be able to list event after event after event, quarter after quarter,” he said. “Those innovations with our dining halls I think were what pushed us over the top.”

The Daily Meal has published a ranking of college dining programs for the past three years, and every year NU has been on the list. NU was ranked No. 28 in 2012, No. 12 in 2013 and now No. 5.

“Our goal this year was to break the top 10, and my personal goal for us was to break the top five within the next year,” Skidmore said. “It was elating. I was so happy that we were able to get much further than we were anticipating. I guess our goal is to get to No. 1 or No. 2 by next year.”

Sodexo tried to increase students’ interaction with dining services by hosting different events, said Rachel Tilghman, marketing manager for Sodexo at NU.

“We are very excited and very honored to have moved up significantly in the past few years,” she said. “We did a lot more with residential dining and it speaks volumes to our improvement in ranking.”

Skidmore said dining services has many goals. Above all, he said, he wants students to “enjoy what they’re eating and learn something as well.”

“Moving forward, we are going to reach out to the students and incorporate them more,” he said. “We want there to be an experiential factor, so students can eat and learn with us and learn about the programs.”

Skidmore said dining services plans to implement a few new programs next year, in addition to keeping popular events such as Tour of Pork, Noodlepalooza, Wildcat Beach Club and Battle of the Chefs.

“We are launching something called Culinary Quests during Wildcat Welcome, where we are encouraging new students to visit many different dining halls, rather than the one they may be assigned to,” Skidmore said. “We’re excited about that. We also plan on doing a lot of events again this year, because we want to keep with the momentum that those got us.”

Last year, nuCuisine encountered controversy when several dining locations on campus cut their hours of operation.

“The hours of operation changes did not affect our ability to run some really great programs last year,” Skidmore said. “That was based on the needs of students to make it more convenient for the majority of students.”

Skidmore said next year’s dining hours are not yet finalized, but he does not anticipate any major changes.

Tilghman said dining services hopes to increase in the rankings even further next year.

“This is not ‘we reached the top,’ this is ‘how can we get better?’” she said. “We definitely are going to continue increasing the student experience and making them feel like a part of their dining program and what they want to eat.”

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