UMass Amherst dining takes top honors again


State House News Service

Published: 08-16-2023 12:43 PM

AMHERST — The University of Massachusetts Amherst has won bragging rights for having the best campus food in the country for the seventh consecutive time, the Princeton Review determined, based on feedback from college students across the country.

The flagship campus operates four all-you-can-eat dining halls with options for grab-and-go meals, along with more than 30 cafes and retail dining locations, and two food trucks. Among popular themed events hosted in the dining halls, chefs prepare steak and lobster for students every Halloween.

Ken Toong, who leads UMass Dining as executive director of UMass Auxiliary Enterprises, celebrated the achievement, saying in a statement he is “immensely grateful for our students, faculty and staff and entire UMass administration for their support and invaluable feedback, which has contributed to shaping and enriching the quality-of-life experience.”

Students who live in traditional residence halls are required to purchase an unlimited meal plan, but the Massachusetts Hunger Free Campus Coalition says food insecurity remains a predominant issue for many students at the state’s public colleges. The organization supported a $1 million line item in the fiscal 2024 budget Gov. Maura Healey signed into law last week that establishes a grant program to ease food insecurity on college campuses.

The Department of Higher Education will distribute grants to colleges to raise awareness about federal food assistance benefits such as SNAP and WIC among eligible students. The money also will go towards developing infrastructure for on-campus food vendors to accept SNAP-EBT benefits, as well as supporting existing food pantries that serve college students.

Earlier this year, the UMass Board of Trustees voted to increase tuition and the cost of room and board at all five UMass campuses. In Amherst, the starting price of an unlimited meal plan for the 2023 fall semester increased by approximately 5%, or $160 per student, since last year.