July 1/Chicago/Technomic -- Technomic's latest report on the college and university segment suggests that 69% of students are purchasing food and beverage from on-campus foodservice facilities once a week or more often. This represents a near return to 2009 on-campus patronage levels of 71%, following a dip to just 62% of students polled in 2011.

Technomic’s most recent "College & University Consumer Trend Report" found that just 35% of students overall say they are satisfied with their school's dining program. Some 44% of students surveyed -- and more than half of on-campus residents (57%) -- wish their school had grocery stores where they could shop using their meal plan.

Two out of three students (66%) said they regularly explore new types of foods and flavors -- up from 59% of students who said the same in 2011. Half of students surveyed place high importance on the ability to substitute (53%) or add (50%) ingredients themselves.

"To keep the momentum going, campus dining operators will want to continually focus on improvements to menu variety, prices and atmosphere at on-campus dining venues," said Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic Inc. "Menu variety in particular is key to retaining student patronage. Our year-over-year data indicates there's more demand for college and university foodservice menus that feature unique items, ethnic offerings and customization opportunities."