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RWU Tops USA Today's 'Best College Food' List in Rhode Island

Report in USA Today College cites high quality of food served in the University Dining Commons

BRISTOL, R.I. – Recognized as having one of the best college dining halls in the nation, Roger Williams University now claims the number-one spot for best college food in Rhode Island, according to USA Today College.

“College and food are two pretty important things in life,” USA Today College stated in a report published Monday. “For all of you high school seniors out there debating where to go to school, worry no more. Coursework, class size and location shouldn’t be your only criteria for picking the school that’s best for you. Food keeps you alive and the food you eat at college should keep you happy.”

The University’s Dining Commons was rated the best dining option on the Bristol campus, and quality was the most highly-rated category, the report says, noting that “Roger Williams uses Bon Appétit as their dining service to provide students with a variety of food choices.”

It’s not the first time RWU has captured top-billing for its dining hall food. The University was recently named one of the “14 Best College Dining Halls in America” by popular food and lifestyle news site Thrillist.com and topped a 2015 list of “Best College Dining Halls” in the nation by BestColleges.Com.

For the 2016 rankings, USA Today College cited research done by Niche, which based the rankings “on rigorous analysis of key statistics from the U.S. Department of Education and millions of reviews.” The best college food rankings are based on meal plan costs and student reviews.

“Top-ranked colleges offer outstanding on-campus dining – students can easily access healthy, quality food across a wide range of cuisines and dietary preferences,” Niche states.

In Massachusetts, UMass-Amherst ranked number one in terms of dining hall food, and Yale University led in Connecticut.

James Gubata, Bon Appétit’s general manager at Roger Williams University, said the ranking reflects a passion for providing good, healthy, locally sourced food to students – a passion shared by Vice President for Student Life John King and staff members who bring in recipes from home reflecting the tastes of Italy, Portugal, Spain and other parts of the world.

In preparing to serve more than 5,000 meals per day, Gubata said the University strives for a sustainable food program and to curtail food waste. At the end of each day, dining staff work with the student chapter of the Food Recovery Network to package unserved food (such as a half pan of lasagna) and deliver it to local food pantries such as Lucy’s Hearth and McKinney’s Soup Kitchen.

Gubata said the university also strives to buy food locally. For example, he said that in years past frozen potatoes were shipped across the country in trucks, creating an enormous carbon footprint, but now the University buys fresh potatoes from local farms. RWU also has a small garden on campus and has ambitions to build a greenhouse to help supply the dining halls, he said.