The Commons dining hall at Kennesaw State recently received the No. 5 national ranking by BestColleges.com’s list of the best college dining halls in the United States.
“These top dining halls excel in each of four areas: diversity and accessibility of food, commitment to nutrition and wellness, commitment to sustainability and waste reduction, and dedication to student satisfaction and community outreach,” BestColleges.com’s website said.
Senior Director of University Dining at KSU Jennifer Duggan said that University Dining takes pride in the food they serve to the KSU community and that they work endlessly to ensure the community has the greatest possible dining experience.
“Careful planning goes into creating nutritious menus that satisfy multiple generations’ tastes and dietary requirements,” Duggan said. “Of course we are food-focused, but we are also highly committed to student engagement, social and environmental responsibility and overall guest satisfaction. We truly care about the experience.”
Duggan said the Commons partakes in multiple sustainability efforts.
By not providing students with trays, the Commons saves thousands of gallons of water per day, according to Duggan. The dining hall has also never distributed plastic straws to students.
The Commons trades with local growers and producers whenever possible. The dining hall uses an in-house herb garden, and grows lettuce for salads at KSU’s own field station, according to its website.
Approximately 169,000 pounds of food waste is produced on college campuses each year, according to CampusDining.net.
The Commons works to combat food waste production, Duggan said. Leftover food is packaged into individual meals and brought to KSU’s Campus Awareness, Resource & Empowerment Services Center to be given to students who suffer from food insecurity.
Duggan said that all materials used, except glass, are recycled, and post-consumer waste is composted, which prevents up to 70,000 pounds of food waste from ending up in landfills.
“We recently collaborated with Seth Moore, the Recycling & Waste Diversion Intern with [the] Office of Campus Planning & Sustainability to conduct a food waste audit,” Duggan said. “Look for a new waste awareness campaign soon at both Stingers and The Commons.”
“In support of [the] Year of Cuba, our chefs have created a menu that features traditional Cuban dishes that will be served on Tuesdays during the remainder of the fall semester,” Duggan said. “We will expand this menu in the spring and will be announcing plans for a Year of Cuba event soon. The event — to be hosted at Stingers on the Marietta Campus — will celebrate Cuban cuisine and culture.”
Students can participate in many community-centered events hosted by KSU Dining this year. Many of these events are available to students in both Stingers and the Commons.
“For the past six years, we have partnered with the Parent and Family Association for a ‘No Taste Like Home’ recipe contest, and students can look forward to tasting these featured dishes in dining halls soon,” Duggan said. “We have recently started hosting ‘Ask a Chef’ events in both dining halls, offering students the opportunity to meet with our chefs to ask questions and offer feedback. We will be using this feedback to create future menus.”
The Commons uses locally raised beef for hamburgers and has plentiful vegan and vegetarian options available to students daily. House-made soups, sauces, dressings, desserts, dinner rolls and cornbread are available. On “Fried Chicken Thursdays,” only Springer Mountain Farms chicken is served.
The Commons is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 10:30 a.m. and 9 p.m. Sunday.