GAITHERSBURG, Md. – Many college students are more likely to come home on weekends to do laundry versus gorging themselves on home cooking, according to a new report from Sodexo, a foodservice provider for more than 600 US universities and colleges. The quality and variety of food available on campuses across the country are a far cry from the mess-hall type of cafeteria dining of years gone by. Menus appeal to more sophisticated palates of today’s students, many who have grown accustomed to trying cuisine based on global flavor profiles, according to Lisa Feldman, Sodexo’s director of recipe management.

“Our student customers have grown up eating a wide-variety of cuisine from around the world,” she said. “They know what they like, but they are also adventurous and want to try new foods.”

To make the grade when it comes to on-campus dining, Feldman said there are trends in the traditional consumer market that resonate among students at universities across the country. Sodexo is appealing to those preferences, which includes offering food options that are allergen friendly at some dining halls as well as putting plant-based, vegetarian foods on menus of other schools. 

Shareable, smaller portions are also appealing to a growing number of students as are meals that can be customized in a fast-casual dining environment. Portability is also a priority for students and meals served in bowls are on trend, according to Sodexo.

With student bodies made consisting of students from around the globe, global flavors are no longer unique at dining halls, as many attendees enjoy a taste from home as part of their dining experience. Meanwhile, Sodexo has collaborated with culinary experts, including Chef Art Smith, to develop healthy comfort foods for students of all backgrounds.

 Sodexo Insights published seven trends it has identified at its university-based venues. The list is available on the company’s website.