Training table is a large buffet spread put out for scholarship athletes at colleges and universities. At schools with a meals-per-week menu plan, the training table typically counts as a meal, while schools with a pay-per-item menu plan usually charge a cheap flat rate for training table.

There are a number of reasons for the training table. First and foremost, it allows coaches to not only make sure their athletes are eating (as training table is often mandatory, especially for football and basketball), but also ensures that they're eating healthy. Second, it allows 250 pound athletes to fill their stomachs on a modest budget, without resorting to high-priced cafeteria food or having to leave campus for grub. And, it also gives coaches an additional daily meeting with players.

At the school I went to, training table was $8.00, and the food you ate stayed in the training table room -- no saving leftovers for later. And although you were required to be a varsity athlete to go to training table, as long as you didn't flinch when you said you were varsity fencing or varsity diving, they swiped your card and that was that. And a glorious spread of Thanksgivingian proportions was opened up to you. Ate like a king for two weeks until they caught on to the scam.

But honestly, it's ridiculous. Hams and turkeys -- freshly cut. Big bowls of mashed potatoes and other assorted vegetables. Corn on the cob. Fresh fruit. Desserts, bags of chips, sports drinks, soda. For the casual dining hall patron, it's the undiscovered country.


Training tables are also prevalent in NFL camps, the players eating all three meals. The Kansas City Chiefs publish the list of available foods at their training table (a single day sampling):
STANDARD DAILY MENU OFFERINGS:
Standard Daily Menu Offerings: five types of juices, ten kinds of fruit, donuts, rolls, eclairs, danish, seven brands of cold cereal, five waffle toppings, milk, coffee, tea, water, turkey breast, two alternate meats, three cheeses, tuna salad, salad bar with 24 toppings, taco bar, pasta bar, fruit bar, cookies, cake, ice cream, fruit cobbler.
BREAKFAST
grits, cream of rice, eggs to order, hash browns, pecan pancakes, corned beef hash, sausage gravy, sausage links, bacon, chipped beef
LUNCH
chicken noodle soup, tortellini soup, grilled chicken breast with Monterey Jack Cheese, beef enchilada, rice pilaf, curly fries, green beans, cauliflower
SUPPER (which is optional)
tortellini soup, cheese with ham soup, carved prime rib, cajun grilled mahi-mahi with sweet corn, relish roasted whole turkey, walnut dressing, whipped potatoes with gravy, corn on the cob, stir-fry blend

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