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Food for thought

When kids today reach college, they want it fast and fresh. Oh, get your mind out of the gutter: We’re talking about food. Variety, taste and convenience are paramount. Gone are the days of mystery meat smothered in that even more mysterious white sauce. At DU, students have it their way, and that’s usually on the go.

“Convenience and taste seem to be the driving forces,” says Tony DiRaddo, Sodexho general manager at DU. “In the dining halls, the Mexican and Italian entrees move really well. And all over campus, burgers and chicken fingers are very popular. We try to emphasize the nutritional side of things, but that doesn’t seem to be a huge deciding factor in what students eat.”

Because of the sheer number of eateries on campus, all of which are run by Sodexho, DU can appeal to just about every palate.  There are full-service facilities in Nelson Hall and Centennial Halls. The Driscoll University Center boasts the Village Commons cafeteria, which offers Pizza Hut pizza, grilled items, deli sandwiches, daily soups and salads; the Sidelines Pub, which serves up daily specials, appetizers, malts, shakes, beer and wine in full-service style; and the Jazzman Café coffee shop. Other dining locations on campus include cafés in the Daniels College of Business, Cherrington Hall, the Ricketson Law Building and Olin Hall.

“DU does a great job offering a wide range of food,” says senior Larry Nguyen, an electronic media arts design major who chooses his meals based on how fast he  can consume them between classes. “If you want to eat healthy stuff, it’s available. And if you’re craving junk food, you can find that, too.”

At lunchtime in Nelson Hall, for example, students can sate their every yen with offerings from 10 different food stations. Menu items include ethnic dishes, pizza, soup, salad, hamburgers and other grilled items, deli sandwiches and classics like meat and potatoes.

“Everything’s made to order, from scratch and prepared while you watch,” says Christopher Camp, Nelson Hall’s chef manager. “You can ask for your food any way you want. If you want something from the ‘classics’ station and you’re on the Atkins Diet, you can ask for meat without potatoes.” Or how about a soy burger with a side of tofu? Camp says that every station offers vegetarian options and sometimes vegan alternatives as well. DU also provides nutritional information for all meals served in the residence halls, so students can choose their personal menus wisely.

But despite variety and health-consciousness, hamburgers, fries and appetizers still rule on campus and across the nation. According to the U.S. Foodservice, one of the largest food distributors in the United States, chicken tenders, French fries and carbonated beverages top the organization’s list of most frequently ordered foods. While fries and soda definitely draw DU students to Sidelines Pub, one of the most popular locations on campus according to DiRaddo, so do the burgers. DiRaddo estimates that up to 75 pounds of ground beef in the form of hamburgers are consumed on campus every day, washed down with roughly 30 gallons of soda. Health nuts take heart, however: The Freshens smoothie bar in the Centennial Halls convenience store is wildly popular with students, says junior international studies major Brandon Danko.

Still, for students like Nguyen, it’s all about speed. “The fries at Village Commons are awesome, so I usually get those with chicken fingers,” Nguyen says. “The Commons has healthy options, but I tend to not eat very healthy things. I grab whatever will get me to class on time.”


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