University students rely on food around the clock, thus making dining a pivotal contributor to the overall college experience.

However, with an increase in out of state and international admission rates, we’ve seen a decline in student satisfaction with their on-campus dining.

This dissatisfaction stems from the limited food options that serve a millennial generation of students with sophisticated eating preferences. In light of the growing health and high-quality standards of college dining, a large number of college students have expressed their dissatisfaction with dining options on many university campuses.

As a result of students’ evolving dining standards, university administrators have been forced to expand their on-campus offerings.  One of the main challenges is ensuring dining hall operating hours align with students’ class schedules. Although this change is beneficial to the student, it poses risk for higher costs on the university side due to the need to increase payroll for dining staff as a result of expanded operating hours.

The quality of the dining experience is another growing standard that has forced colleges to adapt. Aesthetic features such as lighting, flooring, seating, and decoration are all factors that are important to a positive dining experience. Yet, change does not always come without cost. From the university standpoint, these artistic changes will add additional operating costs due to the constant remodel and maintenance of dining areas.

When the many contributing factors of successful college dining are combined, there seems to be a great challenge for universities to provide positive experiences. In addition to aesthetics, availability, and food options, there is also the problem of student dining frequency.

In a study of 685 students in at the University of South Florida, data was collected to determine how often students utilize the dining options incorporated built into in their tuition. The data shows It was shown that only 26% of students used all three meal swipes provided allocated each day, and 21% of students used their meal swipes more than five days a week. With this being said, it is clear that one of the largest challenges for universities going forward is addressing the deficit of student dining rates.

As dining is essential to a student’s college life, universities must take action to improve the overall campus food experience. With constant feedback, improvement, and innovation, universities will be able to revolutionize the student experience for years to come. In order to cater to the growing needs of students, colleges must encourage feedback and then provide upon its results.