If quality food is one criteria on your college selection list, you might want to consider enrolling at Kennesaw State University. The KSU Cafeteria was ranked in many different publications, such as Newsweek and bestcolleges.com, among the nation’s best food service departments.

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It is known as “The Commons” to the students, and about 5,000 guests dine there per day with capacity of about 1,100 at a time. We found out that anyone can eat there, you just pay $10.50 and you are admitted into an all you can eat buffet that’s not your typical cafeteria food. Will you gain the famous freshman 15 here? We can’t promise that you won’t, but there are numerous healthy choices and farm fresh food to keep you on track.


Scoop had the opportunity to meet with Christian Hardigree, director and professor of the Institute for Culinary Sustainability and Hospitality at Kennesaw State University and Master Chef Thorir “Thor” Erlingsson to learn more about KSU’s program and The Commons.

We were pleasantly surprised to learn that the KSU Cafeteria has a farm to campus to farm approach. Not only do they grow 20% of their food from KSU farms (such as tomatoes for sauces), but then their waste goes back to the farm for compost. 40% of the food is locally sourced (such as organic eggs, apples, honey from bee colonies), and right in The Commons are free-standing large greenhouses growing their lettuce, herbs, and more. They brine their own pickles, smoke their own meat, have an on-site gristmill, and make their own pizza dough.

The Culinary Sustainability and Hospitality department is really growing. According to Christian Hardigree, our aging population is demanding quality and healthy food, and careers are trending in that field. Click here for more information on this bachelor’s program.

KSU CommonsThere are several different stations you can choose from: Highway 41 for your burgers and fries; The Green for soups and salads; Apron Strings for baked potatoes and other homestyle foods; Miso Caleine for a burrito bar & Korean BBQ; and of course there is a pasta and pizza station where you can also get gluten free crust.

And then they have the Globetrotter station that serves international cuisine. There are 132 different countries represented by KSU students, and that station serves some of their family recipes for all students to taste and enjoy.

There’s more! A deli, seafood, vegan, vegetarian & gluten free options, desserts including homemade ice cream, a coffee bar and Fried Chicken Thursday. We also heard their Sunday Brunch is a great time to visit The Commons, as they have a great variety offered and the crowds are less daunting.

One thing we noticed is there are no trays and of course no Styrofoam either! You can go back as much as you want, but don’t take more than you need. Desserts are limited to two at a time, as our eyes are always bigger than our stomachs — they just look so good! But they were right: I only needed one delicious blondie bar! Michelle was bummed she couldn’t take her coffee to go, but maybe the KSU students know a trick to bring their own travel mug for coffee carry out. All Freshman are required to get the dining plan, but at least it’s a good one!

So now you know the Scoop on KSU’s cafeteria — another OTP destination. With the addition of the KSU football team, they expect enrollment to increase, and then they will need to build and develop another Commons area.

As you know, a ton of new restaurants have been popping all over Kennesaw as we have listed many in our Dirt category, but it seems all the students need is right at The Commons. Now the rest of OTP can take advantage of their award-winning cafeteria and their farmers’s market every Wednesday from 12-4.

Directions From I-75
Take exit 271 – Chastain Road; Head toward 41/the mall; At second traffic light, make right onto Frey Road; Go through one traffic light; Pass Kennesaw Hall on left; At the second traffic light, make left onto campus, drive forward and park in Central Parking Deck Road — visitor parking. The machine will dispense a parking ticket to lift the gate. Pull into any of the open visitor parking spots.

The Commons is right outside that parking garage.