Every campus has the "good" dining hall, which usually happens to be the athletic dining hall. It's always packed and the food seems to be of way better quality. Every campus also has the "bad" dining hall; the one that is made fun of on social media, the one that a lot of people eat at but no one seems to be too happy about.

At NC State, students often consider Case to be the good dining hall, and Fountain to be the "bad" one. But is there actually a difference between the two? I spent a week eating at Case, and a week eating at Fountain, to try and spot the main differences in NC State's biggest dining halls.

coffee, tea
Giulia Baldini

My Week at Fountain

Fountain is known around campus as the “bad” dining hall. Many people who consistently eat at Fountain claim that they lose weight because the food is so bad. However, these reviews do not tell the whole story. Overall, Fountain has more choices than Case does. Fountain has 2 entrée bars, a specialty bar, a salad bar, a fruit and yogurt bar, a sandwich bar, and a dessert bar. Typically, there are 4 or 5 “Wolf Approved” healthy food choices, which you can view online.

The biggest problem with Fountain is that, while there might be a lot of choices of different food, a lot of those are bad choices. Eating at Fountain requires a person who knows how to make good food choices, and knows how to eat well.

After a week of eating at Fountain, I found myself eating more meals, but eating smaller meals as well. Many nutritionists agree that eating smaller meals is better than gorging yourself. I also found myself looking online to see which things were Wolf Approved, and planning my meals before I even headed into the dining hall. Planning when to eat became tedious, especially on my harder days. Fountain is close to the residence halls, but it is farther away from most of the classes on campus.

Overall, I felt like I had to try harder to eat healthy, but it was not impossible. All it requires is some level of creativity, like adding some fruit and veggies to your plate. 

yogurt, strawberry, berry, smoothie, juice, sweet
Cara Waterman

My Week at Case

Case, on the other hand, requires no thinking whatsoever on the consumer's part. This is the so-called "good" dining hall on campus, and also serves as the athletic dining hall. Here, there is an entree bar, a panini/burger bar, a salad bar, a specialty bar, and a fruit bar with a single dessert. All of the sides are either vegetables or whole grains, and the entrees are usually a baked or grilled protein. The salads are premade: some with spinach, some with kale, others with lettuce. The yogurt is always creamy and overall, everything looks fresher than at Fountain. Across the spectrum, the quality is better at Case than it is at Fountain.

However Case, just like Fountain, has its downsides. Since most people know it is the better dining hall and it is relatively small, it's always crowded. There is never a time that you could go to Case when it would not be busy. Another downside is that it closes down early so only the athletes can eat dinner there. If you are looking for the better food, you have to walk across campus to Clark, which is a long haul for dinner. 

For me personally, the biggest downside to Case is the plate size. The plates at Case are noticeably bigger than the ones at Fountain, making portion control extremely hard. During my week at Case, I found myself eating healthy food effortlessly but I ate so much more food than I did at Fountain. I ate larger meals than I should have, causing me to feel lethargic for the rest of the day.

pie, pastry, chocolate, cake, cream, cherry, berry, sweet
Tiffany Tran

Final Conclusions

After this experiment, I found that going to either Fountain or Case takes a level of discipline. For Fountain, you have to know what is healthy and what is not, and you have to resist the temptations of any other food. For Case, you have to control the portions you eat and make sure not to overload your plate with all of the good food. While Case seems to have the better food quality, they tie for the nutritious value and healthiness of their food.