Northwestern Dining Review

Northwestern Dining Review

What is dining hall food really like ??

In honor of the start of a new school year, here is an article I submitted in a journalism class on the cafeteria and food service system at Northwestern University. Cheers to another year of freshman enjoying 5 Star Sarge.

College students are notorious for their poor eating habits. Forever associated with Ramen Noodles and greasy pizza, it seems like unhealthy food is integral to the college experience.

However, according to research from publications like Today’s Dietician, college dining halls have been distancing themselves from unhealthy stereotypes over the past decade, opting to serve more diverse and wholesome food options for their students.

This has been a national trend, as The Princeton Review has reported on the use of locally sourced ingredients and fresh produce on campuses across the country. Among U.S. News’s “National University Rankings” for academics, one can now find sites that rank U.S. universities based on the quality of their food.

The Daily Meal, a website dedicated to all things food and drink recently released its 2015 list for “The 75 Best Colleges for Food in America.” The Daily Meal ranked universities based on nutrition and sustainability, accessibility and service, education and events, surrounding area and the “X”- Factor: special touches that make the university dining experience a little more special.

Excelling in all five of these categories, Northwestern University snagged the number six spot on The Daily Meal’s list. To get a more comprehensive look into the interworking of the six dining halls which comprise Northwestern’s dining services, interviews were conducted with Sodexo, Northwestern’s catering company of 28 years, employees as well as students.

We eat to fuel our minds and bodies, so the nutritional value of our food is inherently very important. Northwestern works to ensure that the nutritional information for foods served in the dining halls is easily accessible to students, and that healthier dining options are available to students, according to The Daily Meal. Freshman Summer Bakr, 18, said that “The salad bar in Allison [Hall] has a lot of great options that I can make a meal out of.”

Northwestern’s dedication to accessibility and service was highly praised by the university’s students. Freshman, Evelyn MacPherson, 19, noted that “they [the dining halls] have very good vegan and vegetarian options,” while fellow freshman Moli Meshulam, 18, commented that “the food served is pretty diverse on a given day.” Although students complained that it is difficult to to coordinate their schedules with the times when dining halls serve formal meals, particularly lunch, they noted that other spots, like Lisa’s Café and the C-Store in Norris are convenient options for when they’re in a pinch.

Perhaps Northwestern Dining’s proudest asset is its education and events. Director of Communications and Engagement, Rachel Tilghman, works as a liaison between Northwestern and the school’s catering service of 28 years, Sodexo. Tilghman says her job focuses on student engagement. From providing internship opportunities for students interested in event planning and marketing, to coordinating events such as Noodlepalooza, Tilghman’s job is all about providing students with an experience that lingers longer than the food on their taste buds, Tilghman said.

For example, Global Chef, an event where chefs from around the world prepare their native cuisine at Northwestern dining halls, is about more than just the food for Tilghman. “We want to give students the opportunity to not only try new, delicious food, but also to learn about different cultures,” Tilghman said. Students who attended Global Chef’s Indian food night at Sargent Hall gave the event two thumbs up.

Freshman Izzy de la Gaurdio, 18, said “The Indian food was so good, and it was a nice change from normal dining hall food. I like eating different kinds of food, but it’s hard to get diversity in college. It was nice to taste something different.” Other students commented on the Indian-themed decorations in Sargent and thought it was a fun touch that some of the tables had been replaced with traditional Indian dining seating on the floor.

Special events at the dining halls are no easy feat to pull off, as Amy Dearth, former executive chef at Foster-Walker can attest to. Dearth and her team were responsible for planning and executing Foster-Walker’s Barbeque Week, an event which according to Dearth “took a lot of meeting, planning and collaborating, but was totally worth it.” Students agree as many of those who were interviewed said that they really enjoyed Barbeque Week.

Running a successful dining hall takes a large network of people to provide a positive experience for students and other diners. Richard Gongaware, who is in his second year as food service manager at Sargent Hall, is responsible for managing both the front and back of the house, allowing him to interact with staff and students equally. Gongaware said that Sargent’s success comes from its “great central location, which attracts a lot of students. From there the students form close relationships with the staff, which keeps them coming back.” Many students affirmed this statement saying that talking to Cora, an employee who swipes students into Sargent, is one of the best parts of their dining experience.

Student satisfaction with Northwestern dining halls ultimately comes down to the food that is served on a day to day basis. Freshman Eugene Yakubovich, 18, who is a huge fan of Northwestern’s food said that “Every person has their own taste. I could say what tastes good to me, but I can’t say what tastes good to everyone else.” With that concept in mind, Northwestern dining halls are providing diverse food options to suit the tastes of a variety of eaters.


The Daily Meal-

Today’s Dietician-

The Princeton Review

Rachel Tilghman

Director of Communications and Engagement


Richard Gongaware

Production Manager - Sargent Hall


Amy Dearth

Executive Chef - Foster Walker


Fernando Tinoco

Executive Chef - Allison Hall


Moli Meshulam, 18, Freshman, Istanbul, Turkey, Industrial Engineering, 224-714-991

Dan Nahon, 18, Freshman, Miami, Florida, undecided, 305-720-7896

Ege Serruf, 19, Freshman, Istanbul, Turkey, Industrial Engineering, 224-415-486

Evelyn MacPherson, 19, Freshman, Washington D.C. English major, 202-315-8347

Alp Alper, 20, Freshman, Istanbul Turkey, Engineering, 224-415-6800

Izzy de la Guardio 18, Freshman, Miami, Florida, Engineering undecided, 786-202-0537

Eugene Yakubovich, 18, Freshman, Arlington Heights, IL, Engineering, 847-370-9039

Summer Bakr, 18, Freshman, Downers Grove, IL, Biology, 630-901-3369

Cover Image Credit:

Popular Right Now

To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.


So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?



Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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A Saturday In The Life Of A Freshman

Welcome to Darty Season


Have you ever had a more stereotypical freshman's Saturday than my friends Maddie, Lauren, Jocelyn, Meg, Barbara, and I? Keep reading to see a packed day in darty season from a freshman's point of view.

9:00 am

My alarm that I meant to set for the day before goes off. I begrudgingly roll over, and turn it off, falling back asleep.

10:00 am

I finally wake up, roll, or jump, out of my lofted bed, grab my laptop, and do a little studying for my exam on Monday -- there's no time for that later today, so I've gotta get some of it done then.

10:30 am

Shower. Pick an outfit. Brush teeth. Makeup. Pack a bag of extra clothes.

12:00 pm

I walked downstairs to the lobby to meet two of my friends who were gonna walk with me to Tutweiler Hall.

12:30 pm

My friends and I at the fundraising event

Elizabeth Gainey

We arrived at Tut, met our friends, then left to go to a philantropy event at Sig Tau sponsored by B+, an organization that assists the families of children diagnosed with cancer. Their burgers and fries were top notch.

2:30 pm

The Hackberrys, a band comprised of UA students, played the event. We left to go back to Tut after a few songs.

3:00 pm

We finally got back at Tut, changed clothes, listened to music, hung out.

3:45 pm

We *finally* left for Pike (sorry mom!). You know how long it takes five girls to get ready, so don't act so shocked.

4:10 pm

Myself, super escstatic about having to wait in a mob of people to get in

Elizabeth Gainey

Have you ever arrived to a frat when it's at capacity? Yeah, around 100 screaming girls were shoving to get into the darty. It was an experience like no other, but eventually, we made our way in. It may have been in groups of two, and we definitely lost a girl to the crowd (she's fine!), but we made it.

6:30 pm

After dancing on an elevated surface or two, walking in circles around their courtyard, watching an active climb into a basketball goal, and waiting in a way-too-long line for the restroom, we decided to go back to Tut.

6:45 pm

We definitely made a stop to grab a snack or two on our way back to Tut.

7:15 pm

After realizing that none of the parties at night were gonna start until around 10 pm, we decided to watch some random YouTube videos and Netflix to pass the time. There was also another stop for snacks at the infamous Julia's on the first floor of Tut.

9:30 pm

My third outfit change of the day. We decided to leave Tut for frat row for the third time that day, too. I wanna say my total steps for the day was around 17,000? It was a lot.

10:00 pm

Best view in the house (Myself on the left, Maddie on the right)

Elizabeth Gainey

We got to Sigma Pi as the party was just starting to build up. Their band room was filled within the hour, and they had a pretty good DJ. Although the active yelling at me and my friend to get off the stage was no fun.

11:00 pm

Have you ever faked out a frat boy with a soccer ball? Well, now I can say I have.

12:00 am

After someone pulled the fire alarm on Sigma Pi, we decided to walk back to Tut.

12:45 am

My two Ragecrest friends and I decided to take the bus back because, after the stretch to and from frat row three times, we had no more walking left in us.

1:00 am

Canes chicken tenders. Enough said. It's the way to end a night.

It was a very packed, but very fun and eventful day. We pretty much hit all the spring semester stereotypes: walking along and to frat row, going to a darty, going to a frat party, going to a philanthropy event, and more. As crazy as the day was, I highly recommend trying a day like this once because you won't forget it!


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