Student opinions on UK dining options
The dining options at the University of Kentucky include two dining halls on the north and central areas of campus in addition to several fast-food chain restaurants within each area.
Housed in the Gatton Student Center, Champions Kitchen is UK's north campus dining hall. The dining hall option on central campus is Fresh Food Company at The 90.
“I like them, I think they have a good variety, but I think it would be better if they had more options like Taco Bell or Popeyes,” freshman nursing major Haley Dile said of UK's dining options.
Champions Kitchen, or "Champs," serves food from several different restaurants around Lexington including Eiffel Pizza, Athenian Grill, Pasture and Taylor Belle’s Ice Cream. The dining hall also includes a salad bar, a breakfast station and a bakery with a variety of desserts.
“Honestly, I am not really a huge fan of it because since I am a senior, I have eaten the food there for a while now. And since they don’t change up the meals very often, it gets old after a while,” architecture major Gavin Kendall said. “Although, I do like when they change up the food on holidays and events. I would like to eat there a lot more if they would do that more often.”
Adjacent to Champs in the Gatton Student Center are the fast-food spots Subway, Starbucks, Panda Express, Auntie Anne’s and Chick-fil-A.
“I like eating at Subway, Panda Express, and Chick-fil-A the most out of all the options on campus, but even those get old after a while of eating them,” Kendall said. “I do wish that they had more fast-food options on campus like KFC, Taco Bell, Arby’s, or even a Sonic. That way there would be more variety for students, and I think that it would help students to get out of their dorms more and socialize.”
Fresh Food Company, located inside of The 90, sits across from William T. Young Library. It is described by UK Dining as an open-concept kitchen and, like Champs, offers several different restaurants including Bowman’s Grill, Local Slice, Comfort, Local Restaurant Row, Zen Wok, Nathan’s Taqueria, Woke Vegan and Junk Food. Fresh Food Company also features a dessert station, an ice cream station, a salad bar and a deli.
“I think that Champs is better and has a better variety of foods compared to the 90. I guess I wish that both Champs Kitchen and The 90 could have more of a variety because I feel like I see the same exact food options every day I walk through the doors,” senior psychology major Logan King said. “In terms of dining options, I was super disappointed to see that they turned Taco Bell and the French café [la Madeleine] into a second Chick-fil-A location that is barely ever open.”
There are also multiple Wildcat Pantry locations on campus, which act as small grocery stores accessible to all students. The three Wildcat Pantry locations can be found in The 90 on central campus, the Agricultural Science Center and Holmes Hall on north campus. Wildcat Pantry offers canned foods, microwavable meals, drinks and desserts as well as personal care and hygiene items, which students can pay for using Flex Dollars.
“It’s good that [Wildcat Pantry] stays open past the dining hall, that way if you need anything, you can go get it,” Dile said.
At UK, there are three main dining plans that consist of weekly or unlimited sets of meal swipes and varying Flex Dollar amounts. According to the Wildcat Living website, for the 2022-2023 year, the minimum meal plan for on-campus students costs $1,747 a semester with 10 meal swipes per week and it comes with $75 Flex credit. The all-access blue plan costs $2,249 a semester with unlimited meal swipes and it comes with a $250 Flex credit. Lastly, the all-access white plan costs $2,356 a semester with unlimited meal swipes and it comes with a $400 Flex credit. UK also offers customizable commuter meal plans for off-campus students. Students can use their Flex dollars with most of the restaurants on campus.
“I like the dining options, but I wish we had more options with the Flex dollars,” Dile said. “I think it would be a good idea if we could use our flex dollars at places like Canes and other restaurants that surround campus.”