What happens behind the kitchen in CSU’s dining halls?

Tasty Food Abundance in Healthy Europe
Tasty Food Abundance in Healthy Europe (Photo credit: epSos.de)

If you think about it, your meal is on the move.

“Food is an ever-evolving thing. Tastes change. Food changes. Even the students change,” outgoing Executive Chef Cynthia Lategan said.


CSU takes pride in the food and choices it produces for its six dining centers on campus. Each offers its own flair of food choices, from premade specialty salads, to wraps, burgers and sandwiches, pasta made in front of you, personal pizzas and many other options.

The bounty of urban legends behind dorm food are enough to make the heartiest of eaters squirm. However, CSU does quite a bit to keep students and stomachs happy.

CSU nutritionist Brittney Stuard stated that the myth of food fortification and the addition of nutrients is simply that: a myth.

“We just promote healthy eating and varied food choices in the hope that students choose a nutritious, adequate diet,” Stuard wrote in an email to The Collegian.

CSU has a team of chefs that collaborates to create menus for all of campus. Meals depend on the time of year, what foods are readily available and what is popular among students nationwide. If beef prices go up in Colorado, then students will probably not see beef regularly on the menu, but the focus on having as many options as possible continues to be a goal.

When possible, CSU goes local and organic, especially when prices are reasonable, said Tonie Miyamoto, director of communication for Housing and Dining Services at Colorado State.

“CSU’s plate waste has gone down 50 percent in the past few years,” Miyamoto said.

Leftover food that has not been served is donated to the Larimer County Food Bank. The remainder of food waste is either composted or sent to a pilot energy program where the food is pulped and eventually burned to create clean energy.

Although universities are not bound to the same government food regulations as K-12 education, CSU tries to offer healthy options.

According to Executive Chef Peter Testory, there is an emphasis on nutritious choices, but menus are also catered to what is popular with students.


Occasionally, dining halls will host special events, such as Mardi Gras, March Madness, Soul Food and others. According to Testory, these events bring in special and unusual recipes to keep things new and fresh for students. These “fancy dinners,”  are the best meals that CSU offers, according to freshman Keoni Grundhauser.

They are popularly attended, sometimes beyond the capacity that dining halls can hold and are often more expensive than the typical meals.

“A few years we went to a dedicated serving line for vegan, gluten-free, vegetarian and other students with restrictive diets and food allergies,” Lategan said.

The changes used to be “crazy expensive,” but CSU now produces its own gluten-free foods in a specific bakery. Coupled with the special serving line, CSU is evolving for student need.

The all-you-can-eat style dining can be a blessing or a curse depending on student meal preferences. Sometimes the call of the pizza line simply cannot be ignored.


Campus Voice – What is your opinion of the food in the dining halls? Is there anything you would like to see changed?

Justin Kelly, 22, natural resources, recreation and tourism major – “It’s alright food. It gives you the option to eat healthier and, in some ways, it is cheaper than the options in the LSC. I’d like to see a little higher quality food, but it’s not too bad.”

Nori McKinney, 18, social work major – “There are not a lot of healthy choices. I’d like maybe a station where they cook food that’s healthier instead of just a burrito station or fried food station. Maybe a healthy options station besides just the salad and fruit line.”

Keoni Grundhauser, 19, business major – “I feel like it has the potential to be really good.  There’s usually like one dinner a month that’s fancy and really good and then the rest of the time it’s just ‘blah.’ They could make less food of higher quality and waste less food that way.”

Emily Reeder, 19, biology major – “It’s good food. It’s awesome to have the accessibility as a freshman. It can get a little bland after a while, but it’s definitely a privilege to have the dining halls. They should add more variety maybe.”

Georgia Thomas, 18, business administration major – “At the beginning of the year, I really liked it. But, now that we’re this far into the year, I’m getting really sick of it. I’d love to see more variety, but I know that’s difficult because they already offer so many choices.”

Collegian staff writer Mariah Wenzel can be reached at news@collegian.com