What's the deal with meal plans blog

What’s the Deal With Meal Plans?

Living on campus at the University of Utah provides many benefits like the sense of community, close proximity to campus resources and convenience. As a campus resident, you have access to many more benefits including meal plans. Many students purchase a meal plan if they have a busy schedule, prefer to have somebody else cook their food, or simply just want the option to pick up food at several dining locations across campus. There are many different meal plan types to choose from depending on your needs. When deciding which plan to choose, students may be confused about the options and how to use each meal plan. In the following, I will answer some frequently asked questions about meal plans and outline how to use them. 

What is a meal plan?

A meal plan is essentially a voucher that is loaded on your UCard to pick up food throughout the semester. It is commonly used by students to eat at several dining locations across campus. There are several different options for meal plans that have various meal count limits and flex dollars, so students can choose which option works best for them. 

What if I have food allergies?

Eating on campus is flexible and accessible for most diet needs. If students have food allergies, they can easily contact our team to talk about accommodations and options. There are many different dining locations that have different food types, as well as a section in Urban Bytes (Kahlert Village) and the Peterson Heritage Center dining hall that has food without the top eight allergens. This section is called G8, and is a great option for students that have common food allergies such as dairy, gluten, peanuts, etc. 

What are the different meal plans to choose from?

There are two main differences between meal plan options. Three of our meal plan options give you a certain number of meals per week, and two of our meal plan options give you a certain number of meals per semester. Listed below are all of the meal plan options to choose from.

Meal plan options:

  • Plan 8 (8 meals per week)
  • Plan 15 (15 meals per week)
  • Plan 21 (21 meals per week)
  • Block 150 (150 meals per semester)
  • Block 40 (40 meals per semester)

How do I use my meal plan?

According to your meal plan type, the maximum number of meals you may purchase are loaded to your UCard. Meal taps count as one meal and can be used at Urban Bytes in Kahlert Village or the Peterson Heritage Center dining hall. Meal transfers count as one meal up to a certain dollar limit per meal period (breakfast, lunch and dinner). This allows you to use your meal plan at locations that do not accept meal taps such as Miller Café in Lassonde Studios. Included in a few meal plan types, flex dollars are loaded to your UCard. Flex dollars are used as a declining debit card balance, and can be used at various dining locations that may not accept meal taps or transfers. 

Where can I use my meal plan? 

Locations that accept meal taps:

  • Urban Bytes in Kahlert Village
  • Peterson Heritage Center dining hall

Locations that accept meal transfers: 

  • Miller Café in Lassonde Studios 
  • The Honors Market in the Marriott Honors Community
  • Shake Smart in the Student Life Center
  • Crimson View 
  • The Hive Pizzeria 

Locations that accept flex dollars:

  • Crimson Corner at the Peterson Heritage Center
  • The Hive Pizzeria
  • The Honors Market in the Marriott Honors Community
  • City Edge Café in Kahlert Village
  • Miller Café in Lassonde Studios
  • Carolyn's Kitchen in Gardner Commons
  • The Union Food Court
  • Mom's Café & Mom's Pantry in the Marriott Library
Helpful tips from a current resident:
  • Have a schedule for when you will pick up most of your meals. Then, you can be sure that your preferred dining location will be open at the time you go to pick up food. This will also help you use your meal plan to its full potential. 
  • Make sure you are aware of updated hours and locations that are open. With the crazy year we’ve had, some locations have shortened hours of operation and it’s helpful to know these beforehand. 
  • Explore your options! There are many different places to eat on campus, and I always find something new that I end up loving if I branch out of my comfort zone. 
  • If you need an accommodation, contact HRE or Dining Services in advance! This will help relieve stress and help to choose the meal plan that works best for your needs. 
  • Do your research ahead of time. Make sure you know what kind of meal plans we offer how you can use them individually. Also, evaluate your eating habits before coming to campus so that you will choose the meal plan that best fits your needs. For example, I didn’t do my research beforehand and didn’t use my meal plan to its full potential. This could have been avoided if I knew the difference between plans.
  • Be sure that you know the difference between meal taps, meal transfers and flex dollars! In my first few weeks on campus, I ran out of flex dollars for the year because I didn't know how to use meal transfers at Miller Café. When you know the difference between the three different modes, you will be able to use your meal plan to its full potential and make the most of your money. If you are still unsure, just give Dining Services a call (801-581-7257) or email (dining@utah.edu) to clarify any questions. 

As you begin to explore what living on campus has to offer, we hope to accommodate all students in their needs. Most of HRE’s residential buildings require residents to purchase a meal plan as it can be really convenient to have while living on campus. To find more information about meal plans, how to use them and what types we offer, visit the Housing & Residential Education website or the Dining Services website.

Sydney Myers
Outreach Housing Ambassador