FAQ

What are my options as a UC Berkeley student for meal plans?

If you are living in a residence hall: You receive the Blue Meal Plan as part of your housing contract. However, you may upgrade to a Gold Meal Plan at any time to receive unlimited meal plans and more flex dollars.

If you live off campus or in University-owned/affiliated apartments: You may choose to purchase a Bear Meal Plan or Cub Meal Plan.

When can I start using my meal plan?

All student meal plan contracts (Blue and Gold Plans, Bear and Cub Plans) are valid during the academic year, and they begin on the Sunday prior to the beginning of fall semester instruction. Please view our Important Dates for up-to-date information.

Once you have a meal plan, you may purchase additional flex dollars at any time throughout the academic year.

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

You are more than welcome to grab a piece of fruit or a cookie to go after eating at one of our facilities.

When do student meal plans (Blue and Gold, Bear and Cub) expire?

All student plan meal swipes and flex dollars expire at the end of the academic year. Please refer to Cal Dining’s Terms and Conditions for details.

Can I purchase more meal swipes?

If you have a Blue Plan, you receive twelve meal swipes for each week, plus flex dollars. If you use more than that, you may add flex dollars but not meal swipes.

For the best value, upgrade to a Gold Meal Plan, which gives you unlimited meal swipes at the dining hall commons, plus flex dollars.

If you have a Bear or Cub Plan, you use the meal swipes purchased in your plan. Once you run out, you simply purchase another plan.

How do meal swipes work?

Meal swipes are stored on your Cal 1 Card and deducted from your meal plan when you enter for an “all-you-care-to-eat” meal at the Dining Commons. Use meal swipes during breakfast/brunch, lunch, and/or dinner.

Once you run out of meal swipes, you may use flex dollars to pay for meals at the dining commons. Any remaining meal swipes expire at the end of the academic year.

Note that meal swipes apply only to the person who has bought the plan. (Use flex dollars for guests.)

How do flex dollars work?

Flex dollars are stored on your Cal 1 Card and function like cash dollars, but they hold greater value because you can purchase them at a discount: Buy $50 flex dollars for $47.50, and $100 flex dollars for $90.

You can use flex dollars as payment at all Cal Dining locations, including campus convenience stores, restaurants, and concession stands; during late night; and to treat a guest to meals in the dining commons.

If you run out of meal swipes, you can use flex dollars at the dining commons.

Please refer to Cal Dining’s Terms and Conditions for details.

When and how do I purchase flex dollars or meal swipes? How can I add more flex dollars to my meal plan?

You need to have a meal plan in order to buy flex dollars.

Meal swipes are used only in the dining commons. You cannot purchase meal swipes once you use up the meal swipes in your meal plan. Here are your options:

  1. If you have a Blue Meal Plan, you may upgrade to a Gold Meal plan, which gives you unlimited meal swipes, or you may purchase more flex dollars to use in the dining commons.
  2. If you have a Bear or Cub Meal Plan, you can either buy another plan or purchase more flex dollars to use in the dining commons.   

Purchase flex dollars at any time, online or at the cashier's office located at 2610 Channing Way, 2nd floor.

Please refer to Cal Dining’s Terms and Conditions for details.

Can I buy flex dollars without a meal plan?

No, you must have a meal plan to take advantage of flex dollars.

Can I pay for guests using my meal plan?

Yes, you can use flex dollars to pay for guests at any Cal Dining location. (You can’t use meal swipes for guests.)

What is the advantage to upgrading from a Blue Meal Plan to a Gold Meal Plan?

The Gold Meal Plan is the best deal for students living in the residence halls as you can have unlimited meal swipes, using your Cal 1 Card in any dining location. You may upgrade to the Gold Plan for an additional $600 per semester.

This plan is designed for students who want to eat almost all meals on campus. If you are a parent or supporter of a student living in a residence hall, you may consider upgrading to the Gold Meal Plan to ensure that your child has access to unlimited meals in the dining hall commons as well as more flex dollars to use on campus.

When and how do I upgrade a Blue Meal Plan to a Gold Meal Plan?

If you live in a residence hall on campus, you may upgrade your Blue Meal Plan (the standard plan that comes with your Housing contract) to a Gold Meal Plan.

You can switch from a Gold to Blue the first two weeks of the semester or during the winter break, between the fall/spring terms, online or at the cashier's office located at 2610 Channing Way, 2nd floor.

Who is eligible to buy Bear Meal Plans and Cub Meal Plans?

The Bear and Cub Meal Plans are for undergraduate and graduate students, including UC Berkeley Extension International Concurrent Enrollment Students, living off campus or in University-owned/affiliated undergraduate apartments.

Can I purchase a Bear or Cub Meal Plan if I live in a residence hall?

No, these plans are designed for students who live off campus or in University-owned/affiliated undergraduate apartments. Students who live in residence halls automatically have the Blue Meal Plan included in their Housing contract and may opt to upgrade to a Gold Meal Plan.

When and how do I purchase a Bear or Cub Meal Plan?

Purchase your meal plan, at any time, online or at the cashier's office located at 2610 Channing Way, 2nd floor.

How does the Bear or Cub Meal Plan work?

These plans are designed especially to give the convenience, options, and value of on-campus dining to students who live off campus or in University-owned/affiliated undergraduate apartments. Once a Bear or Cub meal plan is purchased, the meal swipes and flex dollars are credited to your Cal 1 Card account. Use your Cal 1 Card to access a meal swipe (or meal swipe combined with flex dollars) for an “all-you-care-to-eat” meal at the residence dining commons.

Use flex dollars as payment at all Cal Dining locations, including campus convenience stores, restaurants, concession stands, and for guest meals in the dining commons. You can even use flex dollars at California Memorial Stadium and Haas Pavilion during football and basketball games, as well as during other Cal Athletics events operated by Cal Dining.

Flex dollars are used and purchased in the same way for all the student meal plans. Please refer to Cal Dining’s Terms and Conditions for details.

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 Bear Meal Plans and Cub Meal Plans.

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, starting with your meal swipes. If there are no meal swipes, then the registers will automatically deduct flex dollars from the Cal 1 Card debit account. (Otherwise, you may pay for meals with cash or credit/debit cards if you have run out of swipes and haven't added more flex dollars.) The benefit to adding flex dollars to your account rather than using cash is that you can purchase flex dollars at a discounted rate.

Can a parent/supporter use CalNet delegate credentials for meal plan or flex dollar purchases?

No, the parent CalNet delegate credentials do not work for the purposes of signing up for meal plans. Students (other than those with Blue Plans as part of their Housing contracts) must sign up for a meal plan using their own active CalNet identification and password.  

Can I buy a meal plan just for fall or spring semester?

If you live in a residence hall, you may upgrade from the Blue to a Gold Meal Plan, but you cannot buy a meal plan on a term-by-term basis.

If you live off campus, you may purchase a Bear or Cub Meal Plan, at any time during the academic year.

How can I cancel my meal plan?

There are no cancellations. Please refer to Cal Dining’s Terms and Conditions for details.

Is there a meal plan for faculty and staff?

Yes. Simply called the Faculty and Staff Meal Plan, it is structured similarly to the student meal plans.

You purchase the plan for $320 and receive 25 meal swipes (to be used by the end of summer sessions) and $50 flex dollars that never expire. You may customize your meal plan with add-on flex dollars, purchased at a discount.

You may purchase the plan at any time and renew at the end of summer sessions. (Please view our Important Dates for up-to-date information.)

When and how do I purchase my meal plan?

You can or purchase a Faculty and Staff Meal Plan, at any time, online.

When does the Faculty and Staff Meal Plan expire?

Meal swipes for the Faculty and Staff Meal Plan must be used by the end of the summer sessions 2019.

Note that faculty and staff flex dollars do not expire as long as you are a UC Berkeley employee. Please refer to Cal Dining’s Terms and Conditions for details.

How does the Faculty and Staff Meal Plan work?

Once you purchase your plan, your meal swipes and flex dollars are credited to your Cal 1 Card account. Use meal swipes (or meal swipes combined with flex dollars) in the dining commons.

Use flex dollars as payment at all Cal Dining locations, including campus convenience stores, restaurants, concession stands, and for guest meals in the dining commons. You can even use flex dollars at California Memorial Stadium and Haas Pavilion during football and basketball games and other Cal Athletics events operated by Cal Dining.

I have points remaining from the previous meal plan. Where can I use my meal plan points?

If you are a faculty and staff member with a meal plan purchased prior to August 2018, you will be able to use the remaining points on your meal plan (no expiration date); however, you cannot purchase any more meal points.

Consider your points as pre-paid cash. Your meal points will be charged according to the meal prices in which you purchased your points until your points run out. If you have partial points’ credit, you will need to pay the difference in cash.

You may purchase the Faculty and Staff Meal Plan and flex dollars now while you continue to use up your remaining points.

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

You are more than welcome to grab a piece of fruit or other small items to go after eating at one of our facilities.

Can I purchase more meal swipes?

No, when your meal swipes run out, you would buy another Faculty and Staff Meal Plan, or you can purchase more flex dollars.

How do meal swipes work?

Meal swipes are stored on your Cal 1 Card and deducted from your meal plan when you enter for an “all-you-care-to-eat” meal at the Dining Commons. Once you run out of meal swipes, you may also use flex dollars to pay for meals at the dining commons. Any remaining meal swipes expire at the end of the academic year.

How do flex dollars work?

Flex dollars work for the Faculty and Staff Meal Plans in the same way as they do for student meal plans. The main difference is that faculty and staff flex dollars do not expire. Please refer to Cal Dining’s Terms and Conditions for details.

How can I add more flex dollars?

You can add more flex dollars, at any time, online.

When do my flex dollars expire?

The flex dollars included in the Faculty and Staff Meal Plan, as well as any purchased add-on flex dollars, do not expire as long as you remain an employee.

Can I buy flex dollars without a meal plan?

No, you must purchase the Faculty and Staff Meal Plan to take advantage of flex dollars.

Can I pay for guests with the Faculty and Staff meal plan?

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

Where can I use my meal plan?

A meal plan has lots of flexibility! You can use your meal swipes in the residence hall dining commons: Café 3, Clark Kerr, Crossroads, and Foothill.

You can use your flex dollars in:

  • Restaurants: brown’s, the Coffee Cart, Common Grounds, The Golden Bear Café, and Terrace Café.
  • Convenience Stores: Bear Market, CKCub, Cub Market, The Den (featuring Peet's Coffee & Tea), and The Pro Shop @ RSF.
  • Concession Stands: California Memorial Stadium, Haas Pavilion, as well as during other Cal Athletics events operated by Cal Dining.

Can I use the flex dollars from spring semester during the following fall semester?

Yes. Faculty and staff flex dollars do not expire as long as you are a UC Berkeley employee.

Can I use my meal plan during the breaks?

Flex dollars may be used during Spring Break in Cal Dining campus convenience stores that are open. (Since dining commons are closed during the breaks, you cannot use your meal swipes.)

Will my Faculty and Staff Meal Plan still work during the summer?

Yes, but you will need to use meal swipes by the end of the summer sessions. Then, you can buy another meal plan for another academic year. Flex dollars will remain on your account.

For example, if you purchased a meal plan anytime in fall 2018, you could use your meal swipes until the end of summer sessions 2019. Then, in August 2019, you could purchase another meal plan for the upcoming academic year. Your flex dollars would remain available, whether or not you chose to renew your meal plan.

How can I cancel my meal plan?

There are no cancellations. Please refer to Cal Dining’s Terms and Conditions for details.

I have additional questions!

Please email your questions to: dining@berkeley.edu

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 registereddietitian, please email: dietitian@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.

Special Diets

Cal Dining makes every effort to identify ingredients that may trigger allergic or other adverse reactions for individuals with food allergies or intolerance. Our staff is trained and educated on food allergies and gluten-free diets on an ongoing basis and they ensure that items marked gluten friendly are made without gluten-containing ingredients. However, due to the volume of meals served and items used each day along with food product changes from our vendors, we cannot guarantee that every allergen or gluten source in the food served will be identified and labeled. There is a small possibility that, without notice to us, manufacturers of the commercial foods we use can change the formulation at any time. Cross contact may also occur despite our best efforts to prevent it. Customers concerned with food allergens and gluten must be aware of these risks. Cal Dining cannot assume any liability for adverse reactions to food consumed, or items one may come in contact with while eating at any Cal Dining facility or catered event. Customers with life threatening food allergies who may need to use an EpiPen should be carrying their own at all times. Cal Dining staff is not trained to administer EpiPens and cannot provide or administer them.

Cal Dining strives to provide a variety of meal options, including vegetarian and vegan selections. Although not guaranteed, special diets can generally be accommodated within our regular offerings. Residents are encouraged to meet with our registered dietitian to discuss any special dietary concerns or food allergies by emailing dietitian@berkeley.edu.

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 meals. Packaged kosher sandwiches are sold in our convenience stores across campus.

I have additional questions!

Please email your questions to: dining@berkeley.edu

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