Campus Food Options at U.S. Universities

First-time university students learn quite a bit about life early in the year:

  • Washing colors with whites leaves you with a pile of oddly colored clothing.
  • YOU actually are in control of your own schedule…want to go to a midnight movie on a school night? Go right ahead! Just be aware that nobody will wake you up for that 8:00 AM class the next day.
  • Bills don’t pay themselves…
  • Mom can’t make your meals from thousands of miles away!
The above pyramid from the USDA gives you the guidelines for a balanced diet.

The above pyramid from the USDA gives you the guidelines for a balanced diet.

That last bullet point is a lot to stomach for many new freshmen, but you quickly learn where to find the best food on campus. Most campuses offer the following options, though the specific food outlets will vary from campus to campus:

  • Dining Hall: Think of an all-you-can-eat buffet of sandwiches, salads, pasta, dessert and more. Dining halls are typically open all day to accommodate all student schedules, and meals here get deducted from your pre-purchased meal plan. Many dining halls also cater to those following a kosher or halal diet – just check the school’s dining services website to find out which dining halls offer these options.
  • Student Union: Every school has a unique name for their student union, but often this is where to find fast food. Chains like Subway, Chopt, Starbucks and Burger King often fill student union food courts, and these are popular food options for lunch, since these are normally centrally located.
  • Campus Convenience: “CampCo” is similar to a gas station with no gas. You can find a variety of school and dorm products here (notebooks, closet hangers, etc.) in addition to a full array of candy bars and beverages. Many CampCo stores offer prepackaged sandwiches and snacks for students needing a quick and convenient meal, but you are more likely to go here to satisfy a late night snack attack than for a meal.
  • Special Dining Requirements? Whether you follow a vegan, kosher, halal, gluten-free, vegetarian or nut-free diet, schools in the United States have you covered! All of the dining outlets on campus should be able to tell you if their food meets your dietary needs, and the nutrition facts for many of the options at CampCo, in the Student Union and in the dining halls will be available either onsite or online via the school’s dining website.

Have questions about dining options at a particular school? Ask an admissions representative at a Linden Fair this fall! Register online at:!