Dining Plan updates

Updated May 11, 2021 


We want to hear from you!

Tell us about your favorite food? See something right? Have a concern? Our online comment card is confidential – and we post all comments and responses on our comment wall.

We look forward to seeing you on campus!

For a complete listing of hours and locations, visit Spring Semester Hours .

For menus and nutrition information, visit nutrition.umd.edu.

For Terrapin Favorites specials, follow us on Twitter @UMDDining. Starting Feb 8, we’ll tweet them out!

Resident Dining Plans

Will Spring Semester Dining Dollars roll over or be refunded?

During normal times, Dining Dollars do not roll over. Our practice is that Dining Dollars expire at the end of every semester. To thank you for dining with us during this extraordinary time,  we have decided that for Spring 2021 only, we will roll over unused Spring Dining Dollars to next Fall semester.

Will Fall Semester Dining Dollars roll over or be refunded?

Due to the circumstances last fall semester, we did also roll over Fall Semester Dining Dollars to Spring. Any remaining Fall 2020 Dining Dollars not roll over again, and these Dining Dollars will expire on May 19, 2021.

How do the resident dining plans work? 

Students living in traditional on campus housing have Resident Dining Plans. These dining plans are designed to provide you with the food you need and want throughout the semester – from the first day you arrive on campus until the last day of finals. 

    • We will offer four Resident Dining Plans: Basic, Plus, Preferred and Premium.
    • This Spring semester, all four plans include up to three dining experiences a day, every day, all semester long.
    • The upgraded three plans include Dining Dollars to use at cafes and shops around campus. 

What is a “dining experience”?

  • A dining experience is what you want it to be.
  • We offer breakfast 7:00 am to 10:00 am Monday through Friday. Lunch 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. (brunch on weekends), Dinner 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Come in once for each meal – or have lunch and two dinners if that suits you better! It’s up to you.
  • You can get a quick snack or a complete meal. Each time you visit a dining hall, you can select up to one large box, two small boxes and select beverage, fruit and dessert.
    • We fill the boxes with standard portions and have them ready so you can select a meal quickly and move through the serving area as efficiently as possible. There is room in the box for more, and we are happy to provide more for those who want it — while not over-portioning and wasting food for those who don’t.
    • We’re happy to add to your box before we hand it to you. Boxes cannot go back across the line to a server once they have been handed to you.

Where will I eat?

Two dining halls – The Diner (Ellicott) and South Campus Dining Hall will be open starting on move-in day, Service will be grab-and-go. After the University approves dine-in service, we will follow campus protocols. Once that happens, please come in, select your meal and be sit down for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Eight or more serving stations will be ready, each with its own rotating menu.

A third dining hall – 251 North will be open for carryout all semester. Visit any of the stations and pick up a large box, two small boxes, fruit, beverage – and dessert from the Maryland Bakery.

Is there a map of where / when / how I can eat this Fall?

Yes, there is! Click on the updated  Spring 2021 Quick Guide to get a complete list of operations, hours and payment types accepted.

How do you accommodate allergies and dietary restrictions?

Each dining hall includes a station called the Purple Zone – serving food free from the most common nine allergens. Cooks wearing purple chef jackets have received extra training in providing for students with allergies and the purple fridge is stocked with allergen-free food for self service. We list recipes, ingredients and allergens for all items served as part of the resident dining program on our website and on nutrition.umd.edu. Menu boards and counter cards are labeled with icons showing which allergens are contained in that item. You can eat safely and without additional help at the Purple Stations and following the counter cards. And you are welcome to ask the Purple Team for advice. 

We provide additional accommodations for allergies and dietary restrictions on an individual, case-by-case basis and are prepared to help you as much or as little as you would like. To find out about our nutrition programming, go to dining.umd.edu/nutrition. To contact our nutrition team, complete the food allergy contact form. Our nutritionist and senior executive chef  will arrange an appointment either online or in person to discuss your diet and make dietary accommodations to meet your needs.

How do I know what’s being served? 

Visit nutrition.umd.edu for menus, ingredients and allergens for all the great food served in the dining halls. Filter your search by clicking on the icon in the upper right and selecting the icons that match the way you want to eat. Before you stop in for a meal, we suggest you look at the menus to get the best meal with the least delay in the serving area.

Will my options be pretty limited because of these changes? 

You will have plenty of choices at every meal. Check out our instagram page to see photos taken by dining hall staff of the food they’re serving.

It is likely that you’ll find your favorites and keep going back to them over and over again until you’re ready to try something new! Each location will have its own menu and Terrapin Pop-Up Specials. Menus will be available online so that you can find what you want on campus before you head out for a meal. The Terrapin Pop-Ups will be tweeted out every day – if you’re interested, follow UMDDining on Twitter. At every location, we will offer choices that include classic favorites, vegetarian food, and food that is allergen-free. We will serve fresh vegetables, homemade curries, freshly cooked side dishes and dessert from the Maryland Bakery. 

Why no self service?

To limit the number of people in direct contact with your food, containers and serving utensils our team will serve all food to our guests. You can still ask for a little more, you can still select from among our offerings. We will handle the containers and serving utensils (with gloved hands) so that you don’t have to. 

Will masks be required in dining halls?

Yes, we expect everyone in the dining halls to wear a mask unless seated and eating at a table. We ask you to use the hand sanitizing station upon entry. The face mask must properly cover your nose and mouth. Before standing up, you must reposition your face mask correctly. 

After we receive authorization to start dine-in service

How do I eat in the dining hall?

After we receive approval for dine-in service, we will phase in full service dine-in eating. The first dine-in phase will be similar to what we’re doing now – Come into the dining hall by waving your hand over the touchless biometric sensor. Follow the signs through the serving area, we will fill your boxes. Sit at a table, remove your mask and enjoy your meal. When you are finished, please put your mask back on and take your boxes and utensils to the dish room return belt where we recycle, compost, wash and sanitize.

Later, we hope to reinstitute the use of “real” dishes, glasses and utensils for students eating in.


Connector Dining Plans:

Will students be able to purchase multiple meal blocks at one time, i.e. can I buy an Option 1 and an Option 2 plan? If I purchase an Optional plan, how many meals need to be left before I can purchase another block?

You can purchase one plan in each forty eight hour period. This is a safety precaution built into the computer program to avoid accidentally duplicating purchases. There is no other limit to how many plans you can purchase or how “empty” your existing plan has to be before you buy the next plan. We strongly suggest that you take the time to calculate the rate at which you’ll use your plan, remembering that your goal is to empty the plan and end the semester at the same time.  

Why have you modified the Connector Dining Plans – they are smaller??!

We recognize that your time on campus will likely be more limited this semester. Therefore, we’ve reduced the size of the Connector Dining Plans. You are still welcome to purchase additional plans if you find you want more on campus dining experiences. Visit dining.umd.edu/optional for details.


Dining Business Concerns

How do I register for biometric entry to the dining hall? 

If you have not registered with the biometric entry system, you need to do so. Enroll today to enjoy quick, touch-free access to campus dining halls.

Register in the South Campus Dining Hall Building, Monday – Friday 10:00 – 3:00. We are in the Contract Office just below the dining hall – face the entrance to the dining hall but don’t go in. Instead, turn right and come halfway down the exterior stairs and in through the glass doors. The Contract Office is straight ahead.

If you believe you should be exempt from this requirement, please email diningplan@umd.edu with your explanation.

When can I change my dining plan? When can I buy a dining plan or Dining Dollars for Fall Semester? 

You can purchase or change your dining plan starting January 5 and until February 5. If you have requested campus housing, you have already selected and purchased a dining plan. You can purchase Dining Dollars starting January 5 until April 16. This gives you enough time to use the Dining Dollars before the end of the semester.  

How do I change my dining plan or buy Dining Dollars? 

Either go online to dining.umd.edu, and in the upper right hand corner select “Account” to access online services or visit the Dining Services Contract Office which is downstairs from the South Campus Dining Hall. We would be happy to talk you through the process.  

When does my dining plan go live? 

New to housing students Resident Dining Plans go live on January 21. Returning Resident Dining Plans go live on January 23.

Can students opt out of the resident dining plan?

Students living in traditional on campus housing must have a resident dining plan. The minimum requirement is the Base Dining Plan. This requirement is part of belonging to the Maryland Resident Community and the intent of the resident dining system is to provide worry-free access to food – every day from the start of the semester until the last day of finals. Connector Dining Plans and Terrapin Express do not meet that intent, and do not fulfill that requirement. Students who choose not to live on campus are not required to have a dining plan.

With this plan mean that students will have to have more Dining Dollars?

We don’t think so. You will be able to get three complete, tasty, nutritious, filling meals every day – and that’s more access than most students have used in past years. Carry-out meals at 251 North will be complete meals, with an entree, side, fruit, dessert and a beverage. Our chefs are working tirelessly to ensure there are great flavors, menu variety and flexibility in these portable meal options. As always, you may want Dining Dollars to use in cafes and shops on campus to add convenience and favorite brand names to your Maryland Dining experiences. 

Why does the dining plan cost the same as it did last year?

We take pride in serving food that is not only delicious and healthy but also safe. While Anytime Dining is our preferred style of service, we have a primary commitment to guest and staff safety, excellent food quality and great customer service in our dining rooms. We actually anticipate that the increased portability of meals will result in students using their dining plans more often than Terps have used them in past semesters. 

Some of the changes we are making to accommodate the COVID-19 public health crisis are expensive. We will bring in additional team members to serve food – since self-service is not part of our immediate future. We will provide disposable service ware for carry out meals – despite the increased costs this entails. We will provide our staff with face masks and face shields to protect our guests, and add breath barriers to many of the serving stations. We will add additional cleaning and sanitation cycles to enhance our already high standards. Even with these additional COVID-19 related costs, the resident dining plan remains priced at less than $7.50 per meal and provides up to three dining experiences each day. Like other campuses in the University of Maryland System, we will not implement the student-approved rate increase and will hold our dining plan prices at last year’s amount. While our style of services must change because of COVID-19, you are still receiving a great value for the dining plan.

How about Dining Dollars? Will they roll over or be refunded?

During normal times, Dining Dollars do not roll over. Our normal practice is that Dining Dollars expire at the end of every semester. However, since Dining Dollars are an optional upgrade to the resident dining plan, we have decide that for Spring 2021 only, we will roll unused Dining Dollars over to the next semester. Any Fall 2020 Dining Dollars will expire on May 19, 2021.


We value your patronage and we look forward to seeing you at our table.