And the accolades just keep on comin’.
The Daily Meal, an online publication dedicated to culinary trends and news, ranked Kennesaw State University’s Culinary and Hospitality Services10th in its “52 Best Colleges for Food in America” and the only university in Georgia to place in the top ten. This is the third national recognition for Kennesaw State’s dining program in the past year.
“This year, The Daily Meal went big, setting out to determine the best in campus dining across the nation – from small liberal arts colleges to Big 10 mega-universities,” wrote editor Nina Fomufod. “In an epic study that spanned the entire summer, we examined the dining programs at every four-year college in America – more than 2,000 of them.”
In determining the methodology for the ranking, the publication looked at Kennesaw State’s dining program as a whole. Students raved about the food at The Commons, the University’s dining facility operated by Culinary and Hospitality Services. Kennesaw State has a national reputation for freshness and sustainability which also helped boost its ranking as among the very best in the nation.
“Everything we do is in small batches – we cook nothing in advance,” said Gary Coltek, director of Culinary and Hospitality Services. “The Food Network has made our business a sexy business. Today’s students demand good food, and they demand to know where it comes from.”
According to Coltek, The Commons currently makes all soups from scratch, smokes its own meats and fish, makes its own pickles and makes all breads in house including sliced white and wheat breads.
This past summer, Kennesaw State joined Stanford and the University of Massachusetts in receiving top honors from the National Association of College and Food Services (NACUFS) for sustainability outreach and education. The 2012 bronze medal award, presented July 12 in Boston, recognized the University’s Sustainable Food Program, which includes a farm-to-campus initiative it launched in 2010.
In addition, in 2011 Kennesaw State was ranked among the top 25 schools for best food by Newsweek.
“Buying and sourcing locally takes commitment, but our school is a successful example of what can happen when everyone is on board,” Coltek said. “Sustainability has been a guiding principle from the very beginning, and it permeates everything we do, from the way we produce and prepare food, to how we handle waste, as well as the steps we take to educate and engage our campus and local community.”
Through its farm-to-campus program, Kennesaw State harvests honey from 42 bee colonies and began growing heirloom varieties of vegetables and herbs on a two-acre organic farm. It also added a second 40-acre farm with a 4,000-square-foot greenhouse in 2011. Plans include programs to produce aged cheese and organic dairy, olive orchards and oil press on the farm.
“We hope to inspire other schools and institutions with our story and help them understand that a large-scale sustainability program can work,” Coltek said.