FAQ

Who can buy the Non-Resident meal plans?

Non-Resident Meal Plans are for undergraduates living off campus or in University undergraduate apartments. If you are registered for summer or fall classes, you can also purchase a Summer Meal Plan.

You can apply online or by stopping by the Cashier's Office.

How and when can I change my meal plan?

For Resident and Non-Resident Meal Plans, you can change your meal plan online or at the cashier's office located at 2610 Channing Way, 2nd floor. For Resident Meal Plan changes contact reshall@berkeley.edu or 510.642.4108. For Non-Resident Meal Plan changes contact busops@berkeley.edu or 510.642.1524. The dates during which you can change your meal plan vary based on the academic calendar. See eligible dates here: Meal Plans Important Dates.

What meal plan do I choose if I live in campus apartments like Channing-Bowditch or Wada?

Residents of all UC housing apartments are eligible to purchase any of the Non-Resident Meal Plans, as well as the Summer Meal Plan (provided that you are registered for summer or fall classes). Purchase a Non-Resident Meal Plan or Summer Meal Plan here using your CalNet ID!

What happens if I have a Cal 1 Card debit account and a meal plan? Will the register know which plan to take funds from?

Yes, the register systems in all Cal Dining locations automatically draw from the meal plan account first. If there are no meal points, then the registers will automatically deduct from the Cal 1 Card debit account if a student has one. (Otherwise students may pay for meal with cash or credit/debit cards if they have run out of points and haven't added more.)

When can I start using my meal plan?

For start and end dates for each meal plan, check the Meal Plan Important Dates page for: Resident, Non-Resident, Graduate, Summer.  

Faculty/Staff meal plans do not have a specific start date.

Can I buy a meal plan just for fall semester?

For Resident Meal Plans: students are required to have a fall and spring meal plan.

For Non-Resident Meal Plans: although we don't offer fall-only meal plans, customers can cancel their Non-Resident spring meal plans beginning December 1. Students graduating, withdrawing from the University, or studying abroad (EAP) can bring proof of such upon cancellation and the $50 fee will be waived.

For Graduate Meal Plans: The Graduate Student Meal Plan applies to both semesters, but you can choose to use all your points during the fall semester and not purchase more points.

For Faculty/Staff Meal Plans, this does not apply. You can purchase points at any time and when your points run out, you do not need to add points.

For Summer Meal Plans, this does not apply.

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Menu

Does Cal Dining provide balanced meal options?

Cal Dining offers a wide variety of options. Our menus are created by a team of chefs and a registered dietitian nutritionist to ensure the balance of flavor and health. While our menus are diverse, it is up to our customers to choose wisely. For ultimate nutritional value, Cal Dining sources a multitude of items that are environmentally friendly as well as health promoting. If you would like advice from our registered dietician, please email dietician@berkeley.edu.

Where do I find nutrition information?

For food in the dining commons: Nutrition information is available in a booklet in each of our residence dining commons. Nutrition information is not currently on the website at this time but may be in the future.

For food in other locations: Some retail items do not have a nutrition label. Most of these items have nutritional analyses online; for those that are not online, this information can be requested by e-mailing dining@berkeley.edu.

Who do I talk to if I have dietary or nutritional questions or concerns?

Dietary or nutritional questions are best addressed to our staff dietitian in advance by emailing dietitian@berkeley.edu. Our general managers and chefs in each location can assist you on site. Residential students also can talk to the Tang Center student health workers, located in each residence hall. All students can also visit the campus Tang Center for health and wellness information.

How do you handle allergies?

Students with allergies are encouraged to reach out to our Registered Dietitian in advance by emailing dietitian@berkeley.edu, who will provide one-on-one support and connect you with the culinary team if needed. More information about allergies can be found in the Terms and Conditions for your meal plan.

Do you have vegan/vegetarian options?

Each dining location offers vegan and vegetarian options. Bear Fit station at Crossroads only offers vegan food items. Café 3 features a plant-forward menu with many vegan and vegetarian options.

Do you offer kosher options?

Cafe 3 has a certified kosher station offering kosher meats. Packaged kosher sandwiches are sold in our retail units across campus.

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Meal Plans

Do the meal plans provide all the meals for the year?

The Resident Meal Plan option Ultimate Access is designed to provide all meals for the year. The other Resident and Non-Resident meal plans are designed to provide a foundation of student meals plus snacks. Depending on the meal plan and a student’s eating habits, our plans will provide 50–75% of meals. We know students sometimes choose to eat off-campus and want to enjoy the culinary delights Berkeley and the Bay Area has to offer, and our meal plans allow them to do that without losing value. The approximate number of meals per meal plan are explained here: Resident, Non-Resident, Graduate, Summer. Visit the Financial Aid page for a budget.

What can I get for my points in a typical week?

The number of points used will be decided entirely by how you plan to spend your points. You can use your points for meals in the dining commons and our on- and off-campus locations. For specific information about what you can purchase with each meal plan, visit the following meal plan pages: Resident, Non-Resident, Graduate, Summer.  ^ Top

Where can I use my meal plan points?

You can use your points at any of the Cal Dining locations. Go to the “Locations” tab of this website to view all Cal Dining locations.

Will I lose my points if I don't use them?

For Resident and Non-Resident meal plans, up to 100 unused meal plan points from fall semester will roll over to spring semester; any remaining points after spring semester are forfeited. Should a student cancel a Non-Resident meal plan, points do not roll over. Points not used by the end of the academic year in the spring semester do not roll over to summer or the subsequent fall semester, and are forfeited.

Summer Meal Plan points do not roll over.

All unused Graduate Meal Plan points roll over from fall to spring, but no points roll over from spring to summer or fall.

Faculty/Staff Meal Plan points can be purchased and used at any time.

How and when can I purchase a Non-Resident meal plan?

Students can purchase non-resident meal plans online or by going to the Cashier's Office at 2610 Channing Way on the 2nd floor. Meal plans begin in August, date varies depending on the academic calendar. Please visit the Non-Resident Meal Plan Important Dates for specific dates when meal plans can be purchased. 

How can I add more points?

You can add more points any time online or by stopping by the Student Affairs Cashier's office at 2610 Channing Way 2nd floor. The minimum number of points to add is 55, at a cost of $50, and can only be paid by credit card. All points added during the fall semester will roll over to the spring semester. Unused points from spring semester do not roll over to summer or fall semesters.

Can I pay for guests with these meal plans?

Yes, you can use meal plan points to pay for guests at any Cal Dining location.

Why can't I use my points at on-campus locations not run by Cal Dining?

Cal Dining Meal Plan points are specific to Cal Dining locations. Cal Dining is self-supporting and does not receive student fees. If Meal Plan points could be used elsewhere, Cal Dining wouldn't be able to pay for our buildings, food, and staff.

Will I get bored with the Cal Dining food?

Cal Dining has a wide variety of food to choose from, both within the dining commons and the retail locations. Each dining commons location has different options, and each restaurant, cafe, and grocery outlet is unique. A number of seasonal menus also ensure that there are different kinds of food available throughout the year. The Menu tab on this website shows what is being served in each dining common today.

What is the actual cost of the meal plan for residential students?

Residential students pay one room and board rate and the cost of meal plans are not separated from the costs of other benefits of living in the residence halls, such as high-speed internet access, residential staff (such as residence assistants), and Academic Centers.

If I don't live in a residence hall, do I need to buy a meal plan?

No. However many students enjoy not having to cook, clean, or buy groceries all the time. If that sounds like you, then the Non-Resident Meal Plan, Summer Meal Plan, or Graduate Meal Plan are great options. These meal plans also have a number of discounts. Our weekly produce stand and markets, featuring grocery retail items, also offer students a way to purchase items to create their own meals.

How does the Cal 1 Card work with Cal Dining?

Your Cal 1 Card serves as your permanent identification while you are at Cal and also stores meal plan information. The Cal 1 Card also has a convenient Debit Account option that allows you to have a declining balance account to use at all Cal Dining locations, residence hall laundry, campus vending machines, at the official Cal Student Store (bookstore), and several off-campus retail locations. Although Cal Dining doesn't operate the Cal 1 Card, we work closely with them so you can get the most usability for this great convenience.

How do you determine retail pricing?

Cal Dining is a self-supporting entity on campus that does not receive student fee dollars to subsidize costs. We base our pricing on product cost, facility expenses (like electricity and equipment) and labor costs. We pay our employees a living wage and full benefits. 

Aside from the Dining Commons, what else does Cal Dining operate on campus?

Cal Dining operates a number of restaurants, cafes, and grocery outlets.  The Locations tab on this website provides detailed information about all the Cal Dining locations on and near campus. 

What is a "to-go" meal?

All four residence hall dining locations offers customers a "to-go" meal option. You can pay $1 for a to-go container. Or you can purchase a reusable container through our Chews to Reuse program. Students pay a one-time purchase fee of 5 points or $5 for a reusable to-go meal container and 5 points or $5 for a reusable to-go beverage container. These reusable containers can be filled and returned in exchange for clean containers for free. After the one-time fee buy in, students simply pay for a meal next time they choose to dine using the "to-go" containers, and may use these containers for the rest of the year. Visit the Chews To Reuse site for more information.

Can I take a few items to go after getting a meal?

Yes. You are more than welcome to grab a fruit to go after filling up your re-usable container or eating at one of our facilities.

Can I use the points from spring semester (the second half of my allotted points) during the following fall semester?

No. Points from the spring semester do not roll over to any other plans, including summer or fall.

Can I use my points during the breaks?

Sometimes. Dining commons are closed during the breaks. The meal plan points are not available for use in other Cal Dining locations during Winter break. Points may be used during Spring Break in Cal Dining campus retail locations that are open.

Do you have meal plans for faculty and staff?

Yes. Please visit our Faculty/Staff meal plan page for details. Faculty/staff can also add money to their Cal 1 Card Debit Account.

I am a graduate student taking classes in the summer, what plan can I purchase?

You can purchase a Summer Meal Plan.

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