There’s two places to get food on the meal plan, and the rules are slightly different for either so let me drop some knowledge:
Student Center - open for lunch (11:30-1:30) and dinner (5-6:30). When you get food here, you have a set amount of money alotted to your card by the meal plan that you can use for food - at lunch, it’s $7.20, and at dinner, $9.25. You can spend more than that if you want, you just have to pay out of pocket (or using the points on your card). The Student Center has a full kitchen where food is made to order; a convenience store; and grab-n-go.
Dining Hall - open for breakfast (7:30-9(?)), lunch (11:30-1:30), and dinner (5-6:30). Plenty of food options, all you can eat at every meal. There are different entree choices every day which always include a meat, vegetarian, and vegan option (and, often, one or all are gluten-free). In addition to the main entree stuff, there is a salad bar, sandwich bar, pasta station, daily soup, ice cream, and drink machines (and probably some other stuff I’m forgetting).
So yeah! Hope that answers your question.
We get a lot of questions on tour about how the food is here. It’s a great question and I don’t think people take me seriously enough when I say it’s phenomenal. Here’s a few selections from the dinner menu this week to give you an idea of how well we eat here:
Tuesday: (Indian night) Beef vindaloo, chickpea & spinach curry, Rajma Chawal (Red bean and rice curry), steamed baby carrots and cauliflower, basmati rice, naan bread, chocolate banana cake with vanilla frosting
Wednesday: Jamaican style jerk chicken, lemon-pepper tilapia, spiced sweet potatoes with honey, szechuan tofu squares and seasonal vegetables, coconut steamed jasmine rice, carrots and steamed broccoli, shortcake (blueberry, peach or strawberry)
Thursday: Gourmet burger bar with your favorite toppings, boca burgers with peppers & onions, baked mac&cheese, steamed kale, corn, steak fries, pina colada cake
Friday: Turkey meatloaf with caramelized onions, balsamic red lentils, vegan mushroom seitan roast, baked acorn squash with brown sugar, harvard beets, vegetable medley, pecan pie with whipped cream
…Yum. See you at dinner!
While I am not a vegan, I am gluten-free and I find the options are pretty good, definitely improving. We were voted as one of the most vegan friendly schools by PETA for several years in a row and it seems that the vegan students are generally pretty happy. You can check out the menu for this week here if you want a sampling of what is being served.
The dining hall makes every effort to make sure that we are happy and we have a board were we can submit “napkin notes” of food we want, like, ideas, etc. So if you find you are unhappy with the options, leave a note!
Most students are on the meal plan, which is linked to your Bennington card. We get 3 swipes a day (breakfast lunch and dinner) on weekdays, and 2 swipes a day (brunch and dinner) on weekends. For lunch and dinner, you can either go to the Dining Hall (which is a buffet with prepared hot food, a salad bar, a sandwich bar, and woks for making your own stuff—there are also plenty of vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options) or to the Student Center Snack Bar, which has a fixed menu with sandwiches, salads, burgers, sides, etc. If you swipe your card at the Dining Hall for lunch, and then also swipe it at the Snack Bar during lunchtime, you will be charged. (That applies vice versa, too.)
All the food is pretty tasty, and the Dining Hall menu is always online, so you can plan ahead. But whether you choose the dining hall or the snack bar, I promise…
Getting to know people is built in to the school. There are 30-40 people in a house that all get to know one another during coffee hour and just bumping into one another. On top of that, four discussion based classes with an average of 14 people each. In both housing and classes, grades are mixed as are academic areas of study, so you get to know a wide variety of people. You never stop meeting people: I have this one friend who invites me to things and doesn’t tell me that she is inviting anyone else — I picture this intimate day on the town, just the two of us, not realizing she is bringing eight study-buddies along. That is just to say that your friend’s friends become your friends especially at places like the dining hall and library. In terms of meeting other freshmen, pre-o is a great way to get to know people (though it is certainly not necessary) and there are plenty of group activities and such built in to orientation.
The fall! Everyone breaks out their sweaters and warm things, and the Dining Hall uses the season’s last apples to make hot cider. And best of all, the trees look like they’re on fire (perfect Instagram opportunity).
*not actually a d-hall grilled cheese but you get the idea.
Welp, pretty much every Friday (like… more than once a month, but less than once a week) the dining hall serves up some variety of gourmet grilled cheese as part of our lunch. Liam and I are partial to the tomato-and-pesto-on-rye, but Holly seems to gravitate towards the classic American-on-white. I just don’t get it. Anyway, grilled cheese day is for sure a hallowed Bennington tradition; likely to be sung of by the bards on high for years to come.
So most of the people I know at Bennington don’t have any objection to the tap water. I come from a house with a well, so I’m a bit of a snob, and I’m not super fond of it. I find I don’t need a filter, just refrigerating it for a little while helps, and also, the water in the Dining Hall is great, so I get super hydrated at meal times.
I was diagnosed as g-intolerant right before I came to Bennington and was super nervous that they wouldn’t be able to accommodate my dietary restriction, but the dinning hall has made eating g-free incredibly easy. There are many people who are g-free or celiac and my sense is that the g-free community is really happy with the variety of options and the clear identification of dishes that have gluten in them.
There are some meals where many of the dishes have gluten in them, but they always set aside a gluten free version of the dishes for us g-frees :). The dinning hall staff does a wonderful job of accommodating our needs as g-frees from labeling foods to switching over to yummy gluten free products like udi’s bread!!
I firmly believe that every annoying aspect of Bennington happens in the dining hall. Don’t get me wrong, I love it: the different colored rooms (everyone has a preference), the fireplaces, the FOOD (actually very good). It really is a pretty lovely experience, almost like going out to a cafe with friends rather than an institutional dining place. But there are certain things that make the experience less than enjoyable, to put it nicely. When people say “annoying” in the context of Bennington, I can’t help but think of:
I realize I sound like a jaded senior. Maybe I am. Maybe I’m not! But I believe these things are just common courtesies to the people around you and maybe should be given some attention. In the end, I guess if these are the most annoying things I can think of when it comes to Bennington, it’s not so bad here.
-India K, ‘12
Just overwhelmed with joy that my favorite Bennington meal was served at lunch today! So I thought I’d share the joy with folks via the blog. Bennington falafel lunch is the best, totally delicious. They set up a little make-your-own bar with pita, lettuce, tomato, tahini and of course FALAFEL!
I ate so many, that I didn’t have room for Pasta Night that night!
Next time I’ll take some pictures of the golden-brown deliciousness that is Falafel Lunch! (if I don’t eat the falafel too quickly)
I’m personally a fan of the Dining Hall here. Some days are just great. Personal lunch favourites include spring rolls day and the vegetable quiche. I was particularly enamoured by this herbed mozzarella and spring mix salad.