Dining Plan updates

Updated November 24, 2020 


Since the University is allowing students to remain in the residence halls during Thanksgiving break, why aren’t on-campus dining options available?

There are on-campus dining options during Thanksgiving Break !! Check out our Thanksgiving and Finals Week FAQS page for updated information about what’s happening before, during and after Thanksgiving Break! 

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 in the dining halls!

Resident Dining Plans

How will 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 year, 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.
  • You can get a quick snack of a complete meal. Each visit to a dining hall, you can fill up 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. We are really not concerned with limiting the amount of food placed in the large box. There is plenty of 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 join us 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. 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 Maryland Dining info sheet 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 and at outpost locations. 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. As in the past, 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. 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?

We plan to phase in full service dine-in eating. The first phase is similar to what we’re doing now – you 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, you 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. At that time, we may need institute a reservation system.

What’s up with this reservation system? 

In order to keep the dining halls full and facilitate appropriate physical distancing, we may need to institute a reservation system to control the number of people dining in the dining hall at any one time. We will send you a link to the reservation page where you can see what times are available and hold a time for you to come into the dining hall for your next meal. 

Will it be difficult for me to get a reservation?

The reason we would institute a reservation system would be to keep our guests safe by regulating the dining room population – to make the dining rooms more accessible to as many people as safely possible with as few lines as possible. We want dining halls to be accessible. We are working hard to make the reservation process as easy as possible and to maximize opportunities for you to find, make and change your reservations. Also note that, due to lower demand, breakfast in the dining halls will not require a reservation (M-F 7-10 am). 

How do I make a reservation? 

We are currently working with CBord and plan to use their GET MOBILE smartphone app. Click here for instructions on how to make and cancel reservations using the GET MOBILE app.


Optional 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.

Could remaining Connector Plan meals be carried over rather than forfeited in the event of closing?

Since the Connector Plans are optional, and participation is voluntary, we may be able to carry over unused meals. This decision will be made on a case by case basis and factors to consider will include the number of meals in the plan that have been consumed, and the timing of the campus closure. 

Update – At this time, because the University has recommended that students return home as soon as practical and stay home for the remainder of the semester, we will be refunding unused Connector Plan Meals and Dining Dollars to students who leave campus and do not access any Dining Services facilities after November 24. Because we are providing dining and retail services through the end of the semester, students who enter a dining hall or make a purchase with Dining Dollars after November 24 will not receive a refund.


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 23. Returning Resident Dining Plans go live on January 23.

In the Fall, we offer an “Early Arrival Plan” for students who return to campus before their plan goes live. This plan include three meals a day from August 26 until August 29 and costs $60.00 (dining halls and outposts will be serving resident students with active plans only and cannot accept payment at the door). To purchase an Early Arrival Plan, call the Dining Services Contract Office at 301.314.8068 Monday to Friday from 8:00 – 4:00. This plan is not available in the Spring.

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.

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 are primarily committed to guest and staff safety, excellent food quality and great customer service in our dining rooms and in the additional locations we have added across campus. We actually anticipate that the increased portability of meals available in our new Outpost locations 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 our 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.

Why is Dining Services not offering a refund if the University does not reopen after Thanksgiving and we miss a month of campus dining? 

As is the case with any contract, both parties must make a commitment. On our side, we are taking on significant expenses – and only a portion of those are directly attributable to food cost. We must commit to salaries and benefits, building maintenance and renovation, utilities, equipment, and support for campus auxiliary services, Dining Services will continue to have significant operating costs that stem from our commitment to the Fall Semester even if the campus closes early due to a COVID-19 resurgence or if students don’t return after Thanksgiving.

If the University shuts down and does not return for the spring session, would this no refund policy also apply to the dining plan for the spring session?  

Dining plans for the fall and spring semesters are billed separately. If you have not enrolled in a spring dining plan, you will not be charged for a spring dining plan. If school does not resume in the spring, you will not be charged. If school starts in the spring and then the semester is curtailed, we will react to that situation as it unfolds. For us to say anything else would be speculation and we cannot say with any accuracy what will happen until we understand the total situation. I wish I could be more specific but there are too many unknowns.

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 and meals-to-go at the Outpost locations will be complete meals, with 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. 

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

Since Dining Dollars are an optional upgrade to the resident dining plan, if the University closes early due to a COVID19 resurgence, we will roll unused Dining Dollars over to the next semester. If in-person classes resume after Thanksgiving, students who do not return will not be eligible for rollover.

Update – At this time, because the University has recommended that students return home as soon as practical and stay home for the remainder of the semester, we will be refunding unused Dining Dollars to students who leave campus and do not access any Dining Services facilities after November 24. Because we are providing dining and retail services through the end of the semester, students who enter a dining hall or make a purchase with Dining Dollars after November 24 will not receive a refund.


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