Winner winner, UMass Amherst dinner.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst dining program has been ranked number one in the nation for the seventh year in a row, The Princeton Review announced Tuesday.
Lobster dinners, Greek sea bass, sushi, and pupusas might not sound like your typical college dining experience, but for UMass Amherst students, it’s just another Monday night.
“History in the Tasting,” UMass Dining, the largest collegiate dining program in the U.S., wrote in a celebratory tweet. “Thank you to our students, dining staff, and everyone who supported us along the way.”
The Princeton Review’s rankings are based on student surveys. Their book “The Best 389 Colleges,” has been published annually for 32 years and asks 165,000 students about their experiences at the 389 schools featured.
“We have an amazing team of people who put this together every day. Our culinary staff, our chefs, our front of the house, our servers, student employees,” Garett DiStefano, director of dining services at UMass Amherst told Boston.com. “We’re very extraordinarily proud.”
DiStefano said the key to keeping their seven-year title is building relationships with the student body.
Whether it’s celebrating Black History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, or Diwali, or having a 2 a.m. dinner for Ramadan, DiStefano said UMass dining appreciates the opportunity to learn about the backgrounds of the 50,000 students they serve daily. And it definitely helps to have staff from over 23 countries.
“We have 20 different student ambassadors who represent students from first years to graduate students with all sorts of different backgrounds that help us formulate menus,” DiStefano said. “We’re very passionate about culture.”
UMass also keeps it fresh, sourcing much of their food from 100 local farmers in Western Massachusetts.
A calendar full of fun dining events is sure to always keep student taste buds preoccupied. From a mid-autumn festival in September, to an “All treats and no tricks” steak and lobster dinner for Halloween.
A $3,800 semester meal plan offers UMass Amherst students unlimited access to the award winning dining hall. The school also has a “No Student Goes Hungry” policy to combat food insecurity.
“We need to be innovative. We have to provide variety. We have to find different ways to keep it interesting because for 15 weeks, these students are with us,” DiStefano said. “And we have the opportunity to serve them every single day.”
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