Dining Plan updates

Updated July 21, 2020

Message from the Director of Dining Services

Dear Dining Plan Students and Families,

We look forward to welcoming you into our dining halls. We are proud that you have put your trust in us, that we will serve you delicious, nutritions and safe food all semester long. While there are operational challenges for us in this new COVID-19 environment, we want you to know that safety is our new hospitality! As we learn more about the upcoming semester, we will adjust our plans to give the best possible food and service to the University of Maryland community.   

Our service protocols will meet or exceed local, state and federal guidelines for food service.  We want to assure you that with all of these changes you will be able to eat well and safely while you are on campus. Safety procedures that you will notice:

  • Hand sanitizing stations at the entrances, all of our guests wearing face masks
  • One-way directional signs throughout the dining halls and physical distancing floor markers
  • Face coverings on our team; face masks and sometimes face shields depending on their assignment
  • All food will be served by our team members
  • Seating in the dining halls will be rearranged and reduced to accommodate physical distancing 

In the weeks ahead, we will finalize the attributes of our fall 2020 dining plans and we encourage you to return here for regular updates about what you can expect. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at UMFood@umd.edu.  For assistance with allergies or other dietary restrictions, please contact us at nutrition@umd.edu.

Sincerely,
Colleen Wright-Riva
Director, Dining Services


FAQs

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 students 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.
T
he upgraded three plans include Dining Dollars to use at cafes and shops around campus. 

What is a “dining experience”? 

A dining experience can be what you want it to be. 

  • For dine-in breakfast, stop by The Diner in the Ellicott Community or South Campus Dining Hall Monday through Friday from 7:00 am to 10:00 am. On Saturday and Sunday, brunch will be served 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. 
  • For dine-in lunch or dinner at The Diner or South Campus Dining Hall, you make a reservation. Details on the reservation system will be forthcoming soon. Lunch will be served from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and dinner from 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm. 
  • Fresh, gourmet carryout breakfast, lunch and dinner will be served at 251 North, the dining hall in the Denton Community – from breakfast until 9:00 pm every day.
  • We will also operate outpost locations at additional convenient locations on campus. These locations will have fresh boxed carryout that you can enjoy right away or save until you’re ready. 

Where will I eat?

Two dining halls – The Diner (Ellicott) and South Campus Dining Hall will be open for eat-in experiences. Come in for breakfast, make a reservation for lunch or dinner. Half a dozen serving stations will be ready, each with its own rotating menu.

One dining hall – 251 North will be open for carryout. Visit any of the stations and pick up a composed meal then add a salad or fruit, beverage and cookies.

Outposts – positioned strategically on campus will offer a choice of four carryout meals with sides to grab and go.

How will you continue to accommodate allergies and dietary restrictions?

Each dining hall will provide a station 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 m.nutritionumd.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 eat in the dining hall?

You make a reservation for a time to enter the dining hall. Come in through the entrance gates and wave your hand over the touchless biometric sensor. Follow the signs through the serving area, we will fill your plate, 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 plates and utensils to the return belt to the dish room where we will recycle, compost, wash and sanitize. And best of all, you can have seconds!

What’s up with this reservation system? 

In order to keep the dining halls full and facilitate appropriate physical distancing, we are instituting a reservation system to limit the number of people dining 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 are instituting a reservation system is to keep our guests safe by regulating the dining room population. 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). 

When will information about the reservation system become available? 

We are currently working on the reservation system and simply do not have all the details worked out. We are including every question that comes to us about making dining hall reservations in our design process. Our ultimate goal is to make the reservation system easy to use, and to provide maximum safe access to the dining halls. Watch this space for updates. As soon as we know more, we will share that information here.

How do I know what’s being served? 

Dining hall and outpost menus will be online, on our website and on the phone app. When you make your reservation, we suggest you look at the menus to get the best meal with the least confusion in the serving area. You might find that the best meal or your favorite special is being served at an outpost! 

What will I be able to get at the Outposts? 

The outposts will feature a menu that changes daily. The menu will be streamlined – short – and yet offer enough variety to bring you back often. Even if you have specific dietary requirements or follow a vegetarian diet, you should be able to pick up and carry out a good meal. 

251 North will be serving a carry out menu that is significantly more extensive than any of the outpost menus. You can go in, pick a station and enjoy a meal from that station.

Will my options be severely limited? 

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 and at the door 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. We are working with health officials to determine if beverages, in touchless fountains, can be safely self-serve – in to be sure this feature meets or exceeds health regulations. 

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 will ask you to use the hand sanitizing station upon entry. The face mask must cover your nose and mouth. Before standing up again, you must reposition your face mask correctly. 

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Optional Dining Plans:

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 closure. 

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?

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.

 

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Dining Business Concerns:

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 August 1 and until September 11. If you have requested campus housing, you have already selected and purchased a dining plan. You can purchase Dining Dollars starting August 1 until November 13. 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.  

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.

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We value your patronage and we look forward to serving you again in the fall.