Cornell students officially eat at the third best dining facilities in the country, according to the Princeton Review’s latest rankings for best campus food. This is Cornell’s highest position on the list in 20 years.
Gail Finan ’69, who has served as Cornell Dining’s director for eight years, said the acknowledgement was most meaningful because it came from Cornell students themselves.
“This is recognition by students, and students only, evaluating and recognizing the hard work that the entire Cornell Dining team does every day,” Finan said. “I know the efforts we go to, and the challenges we face, and it’s so gratifying to see this clear proof that our biggest audience, our students, know it too.”
The Princeton Review rates colleges using an annual student survey, according to its website. The ‘Best Campus Food’ rankings are determined by one question of the survey: ‘How do you rate the food on campus?’
Meeta Shrivastava ’19 said that the variety available at Cornell is a key component elevating the quality and perception of campus cuisine.
“They have a variety of healthy foods I can choose from,” she said of dining halls. “I recently found out I have an allergy to dairy, but they have a lot of options.”
This new focus on health food was recently termed the “Menus of Change” initiative, according to Finan.
“We focus on healthier foods and especially plant-forward meals, on flavoring more with herbs and spices than with salt and fats, and on local and sustainable sources for fresh produce and meats,” she said. “We also have such a tremendous variety of eateries to choose from.”
Hans Butler, the chef at Flora Rose House’s dining hall, stressed that ensuring the quality of campus food is a team effort.
“It’s great to be working around so many different chefs — we learn a lot from each other,” he said. “It’s exciting to be part of a team that has worked hard to achieve this recognition.”
Harry Ashendorf, operations manager at Cornell Dining, said he was “very proud” of his 21 years of work at the University.
“[On] April 29, 1996, my first day at Cornell Dining, I was very proud to join such a prestigious organization and Ivy League University,” Ashendorf said. “My feelings have never changed throughout my career. They have just become stronger.”
Finan added that Cornell Dining will continue to strive to expand and improve its food selection after receiving this honor.
“We can and have to keep learning from you — our customers — what appeals to you and what’s important to you, and from our colleagues around the country who solve many of the same problems every day and every year,” she said.