November 6th, 2015
Students at UMass Amherst can stop by any on-campus dining hall for all-you-can-eat buffets featuring almost every style of cuisine under the sun, including vegetarian, pan-Asian, halal, and sushi. The school also incorporates plenty of gluten-free, Kosher, and vegan options for students with special diets.
UMass not only serves delicious food, but with four dining halls, 18 cafes, two food trucks, concessions, and a delivery service available to choose from, the options are nearly endless.
During a walkthrough of the new-look concessions, Toong and Sullivan talked about the emphasis they wanted to put on putting the resources into the new items on the menu, and to put the money behind it, such as shelling out more money per pound for Maine lobster than they would for Canadian lobster.
"Concession food at stadiums is big, it's exciting and it's fun," Sullivan said. "So ideas like having Niman ranch pork instead of regular pulled pork or having actual fresh-rolled sushi that day is relevant, it's topical."
Dining Services has received the 2015 Marketing Excellence Award given by Produce Business magazine. The award recognizes the university’s dining program for promoting healthy eating and developing a creative marketing campaign around the “Mushroom Mania” event held in February.
James Beard Award-winning chef Joanne Weir will be prepared a five-course, prix-fixe dinner on Wednesday, Sept. 16 from 5-9 p.m. at the University Club & Restaurant at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and at the University of Massachusetts Club in Boston on Thursday, Sept. 17 from 5-9 p.m. The events mark the launch Weir’s latest book, “Kitchen Gypsy: Recipes and Stories from a Lifelong Romance with Food,” to be released Sept. 16.
The Boston Globe spoke with Ken Toong, Garett DiStefano, and Rachel Dutton on the topic of local food sourcing and sustainability at UMass Amherst Dining Services. "Our larger mission is to work with our peers, regionally and nationally, to raise the bar in campus dining," says Ken Toong. "We are fortunate to be surrounded by farmland. We have a vibrant New England food system, let's take advantage of that."
UMass Amherst Dining has partnered with Chicopee Public Schools to improve the quality of food K-12 students are eating. The idea, said Garrett DiStefano, UMass Director of Residential Dining, is to make sure deliciousness and healthfulness come together.
UMass Amherst Dining Services is pledging to serve 100 per cent, no-antibiotic-ever chicken in all of its retail and residential operations. UMass Dining is one of the first universities and the largest college and university foodservice program in the country to take this groundbreaking pledge.
UMass Dining commits to sourcing all no-antibiotic-ever chicken starting in September of 2015.
"Switching to no-antibiotic-ever chicken is the right thing to do," says Ken Toong. "Not only are the students demanding it, but as the largest campus dining operation in the United States, we wanted to take a leadership role in the foodservice industry by making this pledge."
UMass Dining keeps it's spot in the top two in the nation for best campus food according to The Princeton Review.
UMass Dining has been featured on the cover of Produce Business Magazine highlighting efforts in sustainability, healthy eating, and menu diversity.
Dining Services at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has been selected as a winner in the Best Concept Awards given by Food Management magazine. A winner in the Best Renovation category, UMass Dining Services was honored for the Blue Wall, which reopened in September 2014 following a nine-month renovation.
UMass Dining took gold for the fifth year in a row at the American Culinary Federation sanctioned competition held during the 21st annual Tastes of the World Culinary Conference held June 7-12 at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Mark Bittman, food journalist, author and New York Times columnist, will present an on-stage conversation and book signing on Tuesday, June 9 at noon in the Campus Center Auditorium at the University of Massachusetts Amherst as part of the “Tastes of the World: Chef Culinary Conference.” The event is open to the public.
UMass Dining is hosting an exclusive dinner to honor this year’s senior class on Friday, May 1 in the Berkshire Dining Commons.
The event kicks off with a welcome reception from 6:30-7 p.m., with dinner served promptly at 7.
For one night, The Mullins Center at The University of Massachusetts Amherst was full of flavors for 2015's Taste of UMass.
With 50 food stations showcasing UMass dining and outside vendors, hungry students helped themselves to food samples ranging from avocado salad with mango shrimp to Nutella paninis on Thursday, April 24.
The University Club and Restaurant will be hosting a prix fixe Mother’s Day brunch menu on Sunday, May 10 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Open to both the campus community and general public, the brunch costs $28.95 per adult, and $14.95 per child, not including tax and gratuity.
Close to 2,000 people participated in UMass Dining’s 6th annual Dash & Dine 5K race and walk on April 11, raising $6,500 to “help our neighbors in need” at Amherst Survival Center.
The University Club & Restaurant will be hosting a five-course, prix fixe dinner featuring beer pairings from Berkshire Brewing Company on Friday, April 24 from 5-9 p.m.
UMass Dining Services will be hosting the 19th annual Taste of UMass, a collegiate food festival, on Thursday, April 23 from 4:30-8 p.m. at the Mullins Center. A campus favorite, the Taste of UMass is the nation’s largest campus food show, showcasing the best that the UMass culinary team has to offer, all under one roof. The event is free for students on the UMass meal plan. The cost for faculty and staff members who are not on a meal plan is $13, and $15 for the general public.
UMass Amherst Dining Services is hosting the fifth annual “Flavours of Canada” celebration on Thursday, April 16 from 5-9 p.m. at the Hampshire Dining Commons in the Southwest Residential Area. Part of the university’s ongoing visiting chef series, the event offers students the opportunity to indulge in traditional Canadian cuisine and culture.
Just before 6:30 p.m. on a recent Wednesday, PBS chef Joanne Weir was set up in the demonstration space at the Hampshire Dining Commons at the University of Massachusetts showing students how to make that evening’s main entrée — scallop, shrimp and crab cakes.
Along with her seafood cakes, the diners would have an impressive selection of seafood choices for their evening meal: perch with a freshly mad teriyaki sauce, lemon and parsley Alaskan cod and lightly fried pollack tossed in a sweet chili sauce among them.
UMass Dining is hosting its 6th annual 5K Dash & Dine on the UMass Amherst campus on Saturday, April 11 at 11 a.m.
Open to the campus community and the general public, the run/walk is held to promote healthy living on campus and to raise proceeds for “our neighbors in need” at the Amherst Survival Center.
The University Club and Restaurant is featuring a five-course, prix-fixe menu prepared by James Beard Award-winning chef Joanne Weir on Thursday, March 26 from 5-9 p.m.
UMass Dining is hosting its 6th annual 5K Dash & Dine on the UMass Amherst campus on Saturday, April 11 at 11 a.m.
Open to the campus community and the general public, the run/walk is held to promote healthy living on campus and to raise proceeds for “our neighbors in need” at the Amherst Survival Center.
Six schools that earned “Best Campus Food” honors in the 2015 edition ofThe Princeton Review will be represented at a special Princeton Review Dinner on Tuesday, March 3 from 5-9 p.m. at Hampshire Dining Commons at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
A mushroom-inspired menu prepared by Jehangir Mehta, executive chef and owner of New York City restaurants Graffiti and Metaphor, will be featured at the University Club and Restaurant on Wednesday, Feb. 25 from 5-9 p.m.
The University Club & Restaurant is hosting a special prix fixe, four-course dinner for Valentine’s Day on Saturday, Feb. 14 from 5-10 p.m. The cost is $40 per person plus tax and gratuity. Cash, credit, YCMP and Dining Dollars are accepted.
Dining Services at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has been selected as a finalist in the 2015 Seafood Champion Awards given by Seaweb, an international, nonprofit, communications organization dedicated to creating a culture of ocean conservation.
As part of UMass Dining’s weekly guest chef series, New Delhi-born “Top Chef Master” Suvir Saran prepared food and trained dining staff at both retail and residential dining commons from Nov. 19-21.
The University of Massachusetts Permaculture Initiative collaborated with local organizations to add three new programs to the edible gardens on campus this semester. The innovations are the initiative’s latest contributions to improve UMass’ status as a vanguard of campus sustainability.
Ken Toong, executive director of UMass Auxiliary at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, with responsibility for serving five million meals and snacks annually to his 45,000 daily customers, said college students aren’t eating three square meals but rather graze all day long, so he has shifted his focus to lighter meals with higher quality ingredients.
Hampshire Dining Commons will be the first on-campus eatery at the University of Massachusetts to obtain most of its food and produce from local sources. These plans are part of the UMass Healthy and Sustainable Food System Initiative, a pilot project expected to transform the dining hall into a model for food sustainability.
UMass Amherst Dining is the largest university foodservice program in the nation, serving over 45,000 meals per day to 17,000 students. Because of the dining service program’s scale, UMass Dining is in a prime position to have an impact on the growth of the New England food system.
Following a $19 million renovation led by UMass Building Authority, the former Blue Wall in the Lincoln Campus Center has been transformed into a state-of-the-art dining concept featuring 12 food stations serving freshly prepared, sustainable and healthy food.
UMass Dining, a campus food service provider, serves 45,000 meals per day and purchases $850,000 of sustainable seafood per year. It is the largest dining-services operation in the country. UMass Dining students consume nearly 21 pounds per year of seafood per person, well over the national average of 14 pounds.
UMass doesn’t skimp when it comes to food, either. The school was ranked second on Princeton Review’s list of best campus food this year. Students can feel good about where there food is coming from, too. Nearly a third of the produce is sourced locally, and UMass just became the largest food service provider in higher education to sign on to the Real Food Challenge, which aims to shift university budgets away from industrially-farmed food to locally-sourced goods.
And now for the fifth year in a row, the University of Massachusetts Dining services is going for another world record, this time the world's largest New England clambake.
The renovated Hampshire Dining Commons at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst has been awarded LEED Gold certification for energy efficiency and sustainability.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst boasts the second-best campus food in the nation, according to the Princeton Review.
UMass Dining took gpld for the fourth year in a row at the 20th annual Taste of the World Culinary Conference hosted June 15-20 by the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Hundreds got in step to help raise thousands of dollars to benefit the Amherst Survival Center. The UMass Dining Services organized the event.
To build new revenue streams in the non-meal plan area, Ken Toong, executive director of auxiliary services at the University of Massachusetts, in Amherst, implemented a late-night meal delivery service for students who live on campus (roughly a two-mile radius).
The high-quality education provided by the University of Massachusetts continues to attract record numbers of students to the five-campus system.
The much-honored University of Massachusetts Amherst dining service has been recognized again, this time as number 7 on a list of the 60 Best Colleges for Food in America for 2013.
The food service at UMass-Amherst was recently rated No. 3 in the country for best campus food.
UMass Amherst chefs have again set a new Guinness World Record, this time by creating a 15,291 pound fresh fruit salad at the Labor Day barbecue.
Billed as the largest Canadian college chefs gathering south of the border, 10 chefs representing five universities from the provinces of Quebec, Ontario and Saskatchewan, assisted by UMass Amherst chefs, will prepare the menu for the “Flavors of Canada” event on Tuesday, Feb. 5, from 5-9 p.m. at the Berkshire Dining Commons of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The event is part of UMass Dining Services’ Visiting College Chef Series.
After cracking the top 10 last year, UMass Amherst has moved up to No. 3 for “best campus food” in the 2013 edition of the Princeton Review’s Best 377 Colleges.
“We are delighted and proud of our accomplishments,” said Ken Toong, executive director of Auxiliary Enterprises, who hinted that the coveted top ranking is achievable. “We will continue to improve. Thanks to the students, staff, faculty and administration for their support. I think the best is still yet to come.”
For the record, Bowdoin College in Maine and Virginia Tech ranked first and second in the best food category.
Moments after the University of Massachusetts broke the world record for whipping up the largest seafood stew Monday, hundreds of students lined up to break their own personal records for seafood consumption.
For an hour, a team of chefs had been assembling and stirring the ingredients – 1,000 pounds of seafood, 1,137 pounds of potatoes, 575 pounds of onions and much, much more – in a 1-ton frying pan on a traffic island opposite the Haigis Mall on Massachusetts Avenue.
Chefs at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have again set a new Guinness World Record, this time by cooking a 6,656-pound seafood stew at a Labor Day barbecue that celebrates the return of students to the campus.
The record stew was the work of a team of culinary experts including celebrity chef Jet Tila of the Food Network, Willie Sng, UMass Amherst’s executive chef, and the award-winning UMass Amherst Dining Services team. They had help from UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy and a small army of student volunteers, administrators and staff.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Dining Services on June 30 became the first U.S. food service operation ever to receive a Shine Award from the Canadian College and University Food Service Association. The award was presented during the organization’s annual conference in Ottawa.
The award acknowledges teams who demonstrate outstanding dining, hospitality service and teamwork to reach a major accomplishment, enhance the food service business or improve the quality of campus life. The winning team will have exceeded its regular duties and responsibilities, going the extra mile to meet the needs of the business or campus community.
It was a “green sweep,” so to speak, as University of Massachusetts Amherst Dining Services and the campus permaculture project won the grand prize for sustainability and the top award for Outreach and Education at the national conference of the National Association of College & University Food Services last week in Boston.
Matthew Biette, director of dining services at Middlebury College and chair of the NACUFS Sustainability Awards committee, said that the UMass Amherst Dining Services sustainability program is “well known, involved just about everyone and best off, had the numbers to prove it. We could see analysis, costs and outcomes that really made the case.”
“The process of selecting a winner for the sustainability awards was long and involved. We found winners in all categories and compared them with each other,” Biette told Ken Toong, executive director of Auxiliary Enterprises at UMass Amherst. “Your entry under the Outreach and Education category touched all the bases. You included your local community of the University but extended to the greater local community within Amherst and the Pioneer Valley. You touched ages from the very young to the very not so young!”
For a second straight year, a team of chefs from Dining Services won a gold medal in the annual Tastes of the World Chef Culinary Conference’s team competition.
Pastry chef Simon Stevenson, chef Anthony Jung of Berkshire Dining Commons, chef Shawn Stemp of the University Club, and culinarian Taylor Whittemore of Berkshire Dining Commons topped 12 other teams in the American Culinary Federation-sanctioned event held on campus June 15.
AMHERST, Mass. – Inspired by her three years devoted to sustainability activities and “greening the campus” at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, recent graduate Rachel Dutton of Burlington won first prize and $500 in a national writing contest, as announced recently by the National Association of College Auxiliary Services’ (NACAS).
Her 1,500-word essay, “How Auxiliary Services Has Influenced My College Experience,” will appear in the spring issue of NACAS’s quarterly magazine, College Services.
As a sophomore, Dutton was a driving force behind the campus dining program’s successful effort to eliminate trays, which she says saves water, energy and about 30 percent food waste per student. From there, she went on to work with the program’s sustainability committee, contributing to policy recommendations for food operations.
In her last two years as an undergraduate, Dutton was active on the UMass Permaculture Committee, a student-led group best known for creating a quarter-acre garden outside Franklin Dining Commons begun in 2010 that provides hands-on learning opportunities in sustainable land use for students along with fresh nuts, berries, vegetables, greens and flowers in season for campus diners.
Starving students on-the-go no longer need to fret about grabbing food in between 15-minute class intervals. UMass’ first and very own dining truck, “Baby Berk” – named after Berkshire Dining Commons – is now traveling to popular campus destinations to provide meals to students.
The portable dining service kicked off its career Tuesday, September 6 – on the first day of classes. Although no specific route is scheduled, Baby Berk visits the Haigis Mall, Marcus Hall or Campus Center during lunch hours. The vehicle caters to Southwest, Orchard Hill and Central residential areas in the evenings.
Baby Berk’s menu will be changing after two months, but currently offers hamburgers, French fries, onion rings and clam chowder. “Students say it’s one of the best burgers they’ve had,” said truck chef Sockha Son.
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Are you hungry yet?
Princeton Review recently named the colleges with the best campus food. Wheaton College in Illinois topped the list, followed by Bowdoin College in Maine.
Check out our slide show of the colleges with the best food around. Then tell us, how important is food to the college experience? Weigh in below!
Armed with a custom-built, one-ton, 14-foot frying pan, Dining Services chefs from the University of Massachusetts Amherst led by celebrity chef Jet Tila have cooked up the world’s largest stir-fry of 4,010 pounds of vegetables and chicken. Cooking outside on the Haigis Mall on the Amherst campus this afternoon, the culinary team smashed the previous world record of a 2,319-pound stir fry set in 2005 by a high school in Klerksdorp, South Africa.
The event is part of the back-to-school events at UMass Amherst during the Labor Day weekend that will see 27,000 students arrive for the fall semester.
“Our goal was to do more than just set a new world record,” says Ken Toong, executive director of Auxiliary Enterprises at UMass Amherst, shown above. “We did it while also supporting sustainability and promoting healthy eating as we welcome our students back to school.” Toong says the UMass cooking team used fresh vegetables from a student-run farm, the permaculture garden on campus and local farmers. In addition, they used canola oil with zero grams trans-fat.
Dining Services at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is one of six national recipients of the Nation’s Restaurant News MenuMasters Awards that will be given out on Saturday, May 21 at the Drake Hotel in Chicago. The awards are sponsored by Ventura Foods LLC and honor outstanding menu development as well as excellence in foodservice research and development.
Ken Toong, executive director of auxiliary enterprises, which oversees dining services on the UMass Amherst campus, will attend the award ceremony. “This is a great honor,” Toong says. “I’m pleased to be representing our campus, our students, and the excellent staff at dining services who have made this possible.”
UMass Dining Services won the award for its “Be Smart. Eat Smart. Live Smart,” program which is designed to deliver to students both delicious food and healthy options. It features 11 steps to help customers embrace a healthy lifestyle, including eliminating trans fats, limiting sodium and sugar, offering protein from plants and fish and providing more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
The UMass dining plan has achieved positive results, including a 98-percent meal plan retention rate and customer satisfaction ratings of 8.65 out of 10.
The program was instituted during the past several years by Toong, chef Willie Sng and dietician Diane Sutherland.
“We take food very seriously here,” Toong says. “Good food is a core value for our campus.” He notes that kitchens use sustainable seafood along with many organic, fair-trade and hormone- and antibiotic-free foods. In addition, more than 25 percent of the total food purchased by the program is from local sources.
UMass Dining Services is one of the largest college dining programs in the country with more than $60 million in annual revenues.
UMass Dining Services is no stranger to national recognition. It won the Ivy Award, one of the most respected awards in the foodservice industry, in 2008. Each year, past Ivy Award winners nominate commercial and non-commercial foodservice organizations for the prize. Nominees are then elected by the R&I subscription pool of 154,000 trade professionals, making the Ivy Award a prestigious symbol of acknowledgment from foodservice industry peers.
Nine chefs from universities in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec will prepare the “Flavors of Canada” on Tuesday, Oct. 19 from 5-9 p.m. at the Berkshire Dining Commons at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
The chefs, who hail from the universities of British Columbia, Western Ontario, Guelph and McGill University, will showcase students’ favorites and regional specialties from their home campuses. The featured recipes will include mesquite-grilled wild British Columbian salmon with blueberry grapefruit salsa and West Coast bannock, braised beef short rib pate chinois with roasted garlic mashed potatoes, Ontario maple- roasted vegetables, vegetable-crusted chicken and spicy tomato sauce. Each university will provide two main entrees, two side dishes and a dessert.
The event is part of UMass Dining Services’ Visiting College Chef Series. UMass students will be asked to select for their favorite item from each university.
As the holidays approach and we fantasize about the pounds of turkey, hoards of vegetables, and gluttonous amounts of sweets to be consumed, we are usually too caught up in our food lust to think about how much of that food will go to waste. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. generates roughly 30 million tons of food waste each year. Yard trimmings and food residuals together constitute 26 percent of the U.S. municipal solid waste stream. That’s a lot of useful material that could be turned into beneficial product instead of sitting in landfills leaking toxic gases into the atmosphere.
“Would you like to win a free iPad?” the pretty girl in the Auxiliary Services T-shirt said as I walked into Franklin Dinning Commons two Saturdays ago.
I’m going to be honest. I’m a man and I do pay attention when pretty girls offer me free high-end consumer electronics. Right now, nothing is more high-end than the iPad, unless you can cough up the dough to afford a real jet-pack. At $86,000, it’s an awful lot of coughing, especially since it runs on premium gasoline at the rate of 10 gallons per hour – and its tank only holds five. Also, buying one will probably make your insurance higher.
Ken Toong, executive director of the award-winning dining services at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has been named a Leader in Retail Foodservice by Fare magazine, a trade publication for nontraditional and retail foodservice channels.
“What you’ve done for the foodservice program at UMass is truly remarkable—from understanding and catering to the modern student’s needs to harnessing trends to simply making the program more profitable,” said Abbie Westra, executive editor of Fare. “Your unique takes on retail and quick-serve concepts, along with your overall commitment to the industry, make you a shoo-in as a Leader in Retail Foodservice.”
The award will be presented at the Foodservice at Retail Exchange (FARE) conference scheduled for June 28-30 in Chicago. During the conference, Toong and the other award recipients will participate in a panel discussion, “GOLD STANDARD: Insights from the Best in Channel.”
The 2010 Taste of UMass took place last night in the Mullins Center and had it all: 75 booths of food, contests, new records and a singing competition.
“This is not only the largest food campus event in the country, but also an event that is… really able to showcase what UMass dining is all about,” said Executive Director of Dining Ken Toong. “It’s like a year end party to celebrate the end of the school year and is also a great way to enhance the campus life.”
A UMass Iron Chef was held with student representatives from each of the four dining halls doing the cooking and food preparation. The teams had to prepare a number of dishes, based on a common meal (appetizer, main entree, etc). Judges ranked the food based on criteria such as serving method, presentation, taste and texture. Hampshire DC was named the winner, defeating last year’s champion Franklin DC who finished second.
Another student contest, UMass Idol, was one of the most popular events of the evening, with large crowds of students gathering near the stage to watch the contestants compete. Julia Weiner was named the winner out of the five finalists and received a $500 check from UMass Dining.
While Jamie Oliver takes on the task of revamping West Virginia school lunches as part of his “Food Revolution’’ campaign, Ken Toong, executive director of dining services at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, is one of a growing number of high school and college food service managers who are feeding students more fruits and vegetables without busting their budgets.
For $2.75 to $3 per person, Toong’s team at UMass cooks lunch for 14,000 students on the university meal plan. In 2002, about 8 percent of the produce on the cafeteria trays had been grown locally. Now those trays are gone — to save water and waste — and New England produce accounts for 25 percent of what’s eaten. (During the harvest last fall, almost 90 percent of the fruits and vegetables were local.)
Fare magazine and the Foodservice at Retail Exchange (FARE) has announced the first-ever recipients of its Leaders in Retail Foodservice awards. The awards celebrate operators who lead their respective channels in innovative retail-foodservice programs.
This year’s inaugural Leaders in Retail Foodservice are Jerry Weiner, vice president of foodservice for Rutter’s Farm Stores, York. Pa.; Steve Hammel, dining services programs manager for the Navy Region Southwest, San Diego; Byron Hanson, director of delis and food service for Lunds Food Holdings, Edina, Minn.; and Ken Toong, executive director of dining and retail services for University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
“One of the best things about the Fare brand is the ability to introduce channel leaders to other foodservice professionals in different segments. Someone may be at the top of his or her game, influencing and inspiring peers and colleagues, while remaining less-known outside of that channel,” said Abbie Westra, executive editor of Fare magazine. “It was actually one of the reasons why we started Fare magazine and FARE: to connect the different channels of retail foodservice so they could better learn from one another.”
Busy and on the go in the morning, consumers don’t always approach breakfast with nutrition in mind. In R&I’s 2010 New American Diner Study, when asked at which meal they’re most likely to try to eat more healthfully, just 13.2% of consumers chose breakfast, compared with 27.4% at lunch and 43.7% at dinner.
Yet digging a bit deeper suggests that these inclinations may be driven more by a lack of opportunity than a lack of interest. In a recent survey by Chicago-based market researcher Technomic, nearly half of the consumers polled cited a healthful nutrition profile as an important or extremely important attribute in breakfast foods. And foodservice professionals say that when tasty and attractively priced healthful choices are on offer, customers are open to starting their days in wholesome ways-especially when recipes go beyond routine egg-white omelets and bran muffins.
NORTH ANDOVER – Colleges trying to encourage a well-balanced diet have a message for students sizing up that all-you-can-eat smorgasbord in the dining hall: What you don’t know can help you.
More than a dozen Massachusetts colleges have recently embarked on a stealth health campaign – covert operations to address the chronic problem of overindulging students throwing nutrition to the wind.
Portions have shrunk at Wellesley College, Tufts University, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Plate sizes have been reduced at Merrimack College, where newly trained servers are sneaking fresh vegetables onto plates alongside meat entrees.
From celebrity chefs to lobster bakes to chocolate fountains, The Daily Beast tracks down the 15 best college meal plans in the country. VIEW OUR GALLERY.
Here’s just a taste of what college students across the country are having for dinner tonight: fresh-caught lobster, Brazilian churrascaria, summer squash apple bisque, and for dessert, handmade Belgian chocolates.
Once upon a time, colleges served boiled veggies and mystery meat, assembly-line style. Then, in the ‘90s, campus food courts began upgrading to brand-name fast food and fancy salad bars. But to impress today’s prospective students, who were weaned on organic produce, Michael Pollan, and the Food Network, schools are rolling out dining options fit for a visiting head of state. Sushi chefs, gourmet coffee, and organic food are standard now, and large cafeterias are being traded for smaller, more intimate restaurant-style dining. But some schools have upped the ante beyond even that, flying their chefs to far-flung regions where they’re taught to cook authentic international haute cuisine, infusing their campus tap water with hints of cucumber and lemon, and hiring celebrity architects to build dining halls that resemble exclusive Manhattan brasseries—plunked down in the middle of verdant Iowan campuses.
As a Smith College student, I first visited the UMass campus armed with cynicism and what I thought was a healthy supply of snobbism. My college produced more Fulbright winners than any other small liberal arts college; UMass produced more binge drinkers than any school in the area. Smith was home to women who strove for academic excellence; UMass students strove for the weekend. Etc, etc.
As my education went on, I developed close friendships with students from the various Five Colleges, including UMass. During my first overnight stay at UMass, my friend suggested we make our way to the dining hall to eat dinner. I braced myself for the worst. While I had revised my theory that all UMass students were brain dead party animals, I could not imagine that the dining hall would compare to those at Smith, where we can choose nightly from vegan, Kosher, Mediterranean and other dining options.
Following my friend into the dining hall, I was pleasantly surprised to see a far wider variety of food than we at Smith are afforded. Vegetarian, “healthy” and various other options greeted me. My friend, a self-professed picky eater, helped herself to some rosemary chicken and potatoes, while I crafted a large and somewhat unwieldy salad from the expansive salad bar. Grabbing a whole-wheat roll, I scooted over to the beverages, where I was forced to pick from the many choices offered.
We have all heard that America is the fattest nation on the planet. No one is looking to refute this statement. Yet, I think that the answer to this so-called “obesity epidemic” is not to do away with the soft drink industry, or to ban desserts from the menu. Rather, I think the nation would do well to emulate the dining halls at UMass, where the sheer variety of foods allows students to have whatever they want in moderation.
How does a large dining hall with choices upon choices of appetizers, main courses and desserts promote healthy eating? By simulating real life. Realistically, the McDonalds and Dunkin Donuts that can be found in all 50 states are not going to disappear anytime soon. And while a student who eats nothing but salads during college may emerge several pounds lighter, they are not likely to stick to such a diet once reacquainted with the oasis of calories and sugar that await them on the other side.
Nor should they. A balanced diet is one that blends a mixture of carbohydrates, fats and proteins, a plan that even the fattiest item can fit into. Life should be about taking advantage of nature (and man’s) bounty, and one should not have to forgo the occasional coffee and donut breakfast in order to be “healthy.”
The dining environment at UMass encourages students to have their greens and lean proteins. But it also encourages students to remember that life is too short to forgo those delicious double-fudge brownies that appear on occasion. If Americans as a population were to survey their food supply as a UMass student does the dining hall offerings, then we would undoubtedly be far healthier people. Everything in moderation, they say. And that is a truism at which UMass dining excels.
Sarah Billian, Smith College Student
For the second year in a row, UMass Amherst Dining Services has won the Annual Marketing Excellence Award given by Produce Business, the magazine announced in its August issue. The award recognizes the campus for promoting healthy eating and developing a creative marketing campaign to educate students and feature fresh produce on the menu through cooking exhibits during American Produce Week earlier this year.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst will host the 15th annual Tastes of the World Chef Culinary Conference for campus food services, from June 14-19. Many notable guest chefs will be on campus, led by Martin Yan, Roland Mesnier (former White House pastry chef) and Joyce Goldstein.
This year’s theme, “World Street Food, Local flavors,” will focus on many street foods from Latin America, the Mediterranean Region and Southeast Asia. Not only are they popular, but small portions with local flavors are just what many customers are looking for, said Ken Toong, executive director of Dining Services at UMass Amherst, and organizer of the conference. “Street foods have been around for hundred of years in both America and the world, and they are get more popular in America,” he said. “Our students can snack on tapas all day. They are looking for freshness, variety and flavor, and portable street foods really fit the bill.”
Ken Toong, executive director of dining and retail services at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has been named FoodService Director magazine’s Food Service Director of the Year for 2008.
Toong received the honor at a recent dinner presentation during the 2009 MenuDirections Conference held in San Antonio, Texas. One of 12 Food Service Directors of the Month honored at the dinner, Toong was profiled in the December 2008 issue of FSD.
Everyone knows the story of the Bermuda Triangle. For over a half a century, ships and planes have been known to mysteriously disappear within the Triangle’s perimeters. But the University of Massachusetts also has an urban legend that pertains to a geometric shape: a circle. It is the urban legend of the Grade Circle.
Have you ever gone into a test thinking you did well only to find out you failed miserably? Blame it all on the Grade Circle, located between Curry Hicks (The Cage) and Munson. This white, concreted area half-surrounded by benches is rumored to be a zone detrimental to your grades. If one walks through the Circle the morning before a big exam, you are more likely to do worse.
Ken Toong won’t settle for anything less than the best.
Ever since Ken Toong came to the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 1998, he has been a busy man. As executive director of UMass Dining he has turned the program into one of the largest revenue-producing campus dining operations in the country. Considering that the university has capped enrollment at 25,000 students, Toong has had to use a variety of methods to grow his program, which serves about 45,000 meals per day. Those methods have ranged from major renovations to simply making himself available to dine with his students every day. This extra effort has helped to put the program on track to earn about $55 million in revenue this year.
“When Ken generates an idea or sees a concept that he wants, he will stop at no end to make sure that it happens,” says David Eichstaedt, senior manager of retail dining. “He is one of the most passionate people I’ve ever worked with. He eats and sleeps UMass Dining. Ken is never standing still, and by that I mean once one initiative has been achieved, it is on to the next one.”
When one thinks of Halloween, the first things that come to mind are candy, pumpkins, skeletons and costumes. But for University of Massachusetts students, it’s lobster.
The Halloween lobster dinner is now a 7-year-old tradition, and students do not claim that it will get old. The event, sponsored by the University’s dining services is “a nice treat for students for their hard work and is a great way to celebrate the harvest,” said Executive Director of Food Services Ken Toong.
Within the past month, Ken Toong, director of Dining Services, received both the state’s Faces of Agriculture Award and the 2008 Blue Ribbon Award for his …
The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) and The University of Massachusetts, Amherst Dining Services are collaborating to celebrate Alaska’s sustainable seafood, October 6-9. Alaska species including wild and sustainable salmon, black cod, Weathervane scallops, cod, and halibut will be prepared for lunch and dinner in all four dining commons. Dishes will include Miso Marinated Alaska Salmon with Citrus and Shiitakes, and a BBQ Alaska Salmon Sandwich. ASMI’s Seafood Technical Director, Randy Rice, will be on campus to help celebrate the event and will discuss Alaska’s 50-year history in fisheries management on October 8, at 7pm in the Berkshire Dining Commons. UMass professors Dr. Cynthia Barstow and Dr. Eric Decker will also participate and aid in the overall discussion regarding sustainability in the food chain.
Think globally, eat locally.
That could well be the philosophy at University of Massachusetts, where the dining halls are increasingly serving food grown on area farms.
This year, 23 percent of the food served in campus dining halls, everything from eggs to eggplant, will come from local farms, up from 7 percent in 2004. The effort is part of the statewide Farm to School Project.
Gordon’s company made its debut at UMass thanks to a two-hour layover that Dining Services Director Ken Toong, spent in a Minneapolis airport in January.
AMHERST, Mass. – Dining Services at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has added two more honors to its plate with awards from Food Management and Produce Business magazines. Dining Services won “Best of Show” in Food Management’s 2008 “Best Concepts” awards competition and also captured the 20th Annual Marketing Excellence Award presented by Produce Business.
Penton Media’s Food Management® magazine has announced the winners of its 2008 “Best Concepts” awards competition. The annual program recognizes exceptional achievement and innovation in key areas of noncommercial foodservice, as judged by the FM editorial staff.
A team of Dining Services chefs won a gold medal June 20 during the Tastes of the World Chef Culinary Conference held on campus. Chef Tony Jung of Berkshire Dining Commons led the team, whose other members were chef Simon Stevenson, pastry; chef Chi Cuong Huynh, catering; and chef Christine DePault, also of Berkshire Dining Commons.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst is hosting the 14th annual “Tastes of the World Chef Culinary Conference” for campus food services June 16-20 at the Marriott Center in the Campus Center and Berkshire Dining Commons. The featured guest is former White House chef Walter Scheib.
Harvard is the world’s richest university, yet it recently pulled whole grain pasta from the dining service menu, replaced cherry tomatoes with wedges, and even started using more chicken thighs in lieu of breasts.
This past Thursday, the Mullins Center underwent a staggering transformation. Basketball nets and courtside seats disappeared, but the crowd noise remained. Concession stands closed down, but the scent of food lingered even stronger in the air. The court was packed with vendors and Dining Commons chefs alike, as thousands of hungry students elbowed their way through the crowd for a shot at some free food, drinks, and maybe – just maybe – a little taste of glory.
Tonight, when you head down to your local DC for your evening meal, don”t be surprised if you are turned away. No, there isn”t a strike. There hasn”t been a kitchen fire. The University hasn”t simply run out of food – quite the contrary, in fact. Tonight, University of Massachusetts Dining Services is pulling out all the stops, redirecting all their resources to the Mullins Center for an event they like to call, “Taste of UMass.”
The University of Massachusetts Dining Services has been awarded one of Restaurants and Institutions (R&I) Magazine”s 2008 Ivy Awards for excellence in the food service industry. “This is the award that every dining establishment would love to have,” said Executive Director of UMass Dining Services Ken Toong. The R&I Ivy Awards are given annually to food service institutions that demonstrate the highest standards of achievement in food, service and overall hospitality.
Dining Services at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has been named one of six winners of the 2008 Restaurants and Institutions magazine Ivy Awards, one of the oldest and most-coveted awards in the food service industry. Besides UMass Amherst, award winners this year include top restaurants in Chicago, New York, California and Las Vegas as well as a hospital in Texas.
Restaurants & Institutions magazine has announced the recipients of its 38th annual Ivy Awards, one of the oldest and most-coveted accolades in the foodservice industry. Six operations that embody the Ivy standards for excellence in food and service will be inducted into the Ivy Society in Chicago on May 18, 2008. This year’s recipients will be honored at a gala Ivy Awards Celebration and Dinner held at The Field Museum, an event that coincides with the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Hotel-Motel Show.
A taste of Virginia Tech will soon be introduced to the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Mark Bratton, West End Market dining center”s executive chef has been invited by UMass to serve as one of eight guest chefs from universities across the country during the 2007-08 school year. Tech was voted as having the best university dining services by the Princeton Review for 2008.
Over the past year Dining Services at the University of Massachusetts has purchased 20 percent of its produce from area farms as part of a locally grown program. Within two years they hope to be purchasing as much as 25 percent from local farms. A farmer”s market was opened in the Campus Center this semester as part of the University”s effort to expand the locally grown plan.
Serving thousands of hungry students is no easy task, and doing it as efficiently and as environmentally friendly as possible takes a lot of effort. But thanks to a variety of programs put together by Ken Toong, head of Dining Services at the University of Massachusetts, the DCs have made big strides in the last few years.
AMHERST, Mass. – Dining Services at the University of Massachusetts Amherst will hold its sixth annual Halloween “Tricks, Treats ’n’ More” dinner from 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 31. All dining halls on campus will participate in treating more than 13,000 students to Maine live lobster, clam chowder, strip steak, locally grown vegetables and apple cider.
AMHERST, Mass. – Dining Services at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is expanding its commitment to locally grown produce by making it available at a farmers’ market on campus each Thursday and Friday until late November. Located in the Campus Center concourse outside the Bluewall Cafe, the market is open from 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst and the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) will host a Wild Alaska Seafood Week beginning Monday, Oct. 1 at the campus dining commons. The events are designed to promote seafood sustainability.
Fine dining came to the University of Massachusetts with the arrival of former White House chef Walter Scheib Wednesday night. Scheib was the main White House chef for 11 years, working for President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush. He served UMass students the favorite dishes of both presidents, such as sweet potato soup and penne pasta salad.
Walter Scheib, the former executive chef for the White House, will visit the University of Massachusetts Amherst on Wednesday, Sept. 19 as part of Dining Services’ Guest Chef Series. Scheib, the author of “White House Chef: Eleven Years, Two Presidents, One Kitchen,” will prepare dishes from his tenure in Washington, D.C., which spanned the presidencies of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Scheib will greet students during the three-course dinner, which will be served in the Berkshire Dining Commons from 5-9 p.m. The meal will include such Clinton family favorites as sweet potato soup with curried cream and baby back ribs with fire cracker dipping sauce, and Bush family favorites such as corn and scallop chowder and penne pasta salad.
UMASS Dining Services Delivers the Goods in a Tough Environment.
Univ. of Massachusetts, Berkshire Dining Commons: a highly stylized, multi-station, food-forward eatery that has significantly upgraded board dining on the campus. Highly flexible, the facility’s stations are specifically designed to be adapted over time for a variety of cuisines, prep and serving styles and traffic flows.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst is hosting the 13th annual “Tastes of the World Chef Culinary Conference” for campus food services June 11-15. The event focuses on three key factors in campus dining: flavor, wellness and sustainability. Conference events will be held at the Campus Center and Berkshire Dining Commons.
The National Association of College and University Food Services (NACUFS) has announced that the University of Massachusetts Amherst Dining Services received a gold award in the 2007 Loyal E. Horton Dining Awards for residence hall dining – multiple concepts.
Students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst students will get to sample the regional Mexican Oaxaca cuisine of Iliana de la Vega, on Tuesday, April 24, from 5-9 p.m. in the Berkshire Dinning Commons. The chef series is managed by UMass Amherst Dining Services.
The Taste of UMass 2007, one of the largest campus food service gatherings in the nation, expects to draw 8,000 students on Thursday, April 19, from 5 to 8 p.m. in the Mullins Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
This year’s event will feature nationally renowned chef and television personality Jet Tila, who will demonstrate healthy cooking techniques to students and offer his expertise on how to prepare healthy Southeast Asian cuisine. Local farmers and staff from Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) will also be on hand.
University of Massachusetts Amherst chef Anthony J. Jung won the National Association of College and University Food Services (NACUFS) Northeast Region Culinary Challenge held March 4-7 at the University of Connecticut and is headed to the nationals this summer.
University of Massachusetts Amherst students will get to meet and sample the work of three outstanding chefs in February and March as part of the Guest Chef Series in the Berkshire Dining Commons.
The series, managed by UMass Amherst Dining Services, starts Thursday, Feb. 22, from 5-9 p.m. with Joanne Weir, a San Francisco-based culinary expert. Weir is a James Beard Award-winning cookbook author, cooking teacher, chef and television personality. After graduating from UMass Amherst with a major in art education and teaching fine arts in Boston, Weir spent years cooking in Berkeley, Calif., and France before being awarded her master chef certificate.
Dining Services at the University of Massachusetts Amherst will hold its fifth annual Halloween “Tricks, Treats ”n” More” dinner from 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 31. All dining halls on campus will participate in treating 12,500 students to live lobster, clam chowder, strip steak and locally grown vegetables.
Dining Services at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is participating in a national effort to support seafood sustainability. A kick-off event is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 28 and will include a lecture on sustainable seafood by alumnus Mark Lussier at 7 p.m. in the Berkshire Dining Commons.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst will continue its emphasis on promoting healthy food options by hosting this year”s 12th annual “Tastes of the World” Chef Culinary Conference on healthy food and flavor. The international gathering of campus food professionals will be held June 5-9 in the Campus Center and Hampshire Dining Commons, and includes a presentation by renowned chef Jacques Pepin.
The National Association of College and University Food Services has announced that the UMass Amherst Dining Services received second place for the 2006 Loyal E. Horton Dining Awards in the multiple concepts category.
Andrea J. Greaney, a University of Massachusetts-Amherst junior from Agawam, sampled some freshly baked bread and ice cream before digging into a salmon caesar salad.
Her dinner would not end there. Not with more than 70 food booths awaiting her at the “Taste of UMass 2006.”
“A Taste of Japan” Comes to Worcester Dining Commons at UMass Amherst on Feb. 15
UMass Amherst Mom Wins Recipe Contest, will Feed Son and Classmates Curried Chicken with Apple
UMass Dining Services Becomes “A Local Hero” By Supporting Western Mass. Produce Program