If you’re a Middle Tennessee State University student, learning to manage your meal plan is a vital part of campus life.
So, here’s what you need to know, whether you’re a freshman — and it’s your first year on campus — or you’re living off campus. Once you know the system, it’s easy to keep your belly full and your mind focused on studying.
Find your fit
There are multiple types of meal plans to choose from: including the Unlimited, Create Your Own and the Weekly 7.
All plans come with meals that provide all-you-care-to-eat dining in McCallie Dining Hall in the Keathley University Center (open seven days a week) or the Farmers Market at the Student Union Building (open Monday through Friday); the ability to use meals in select retail restaurants through Meal Equivalency; and FlexBucks that can be used in all MT Dining locations and for ordering Papa John’s Pizza for delivery or pickup using the GET Mobile app.
There are also FlexBucks plans for those that just want these as a dining option.
Q&A on Zoom
If you’re unsure of what plan to pick or how to make the most of your meal plan, parents and students alike can ask questions during a 20-minute Zoom session at 11 a.m. Central Aug. 7, 14 and 21 with Aramark dining director Rachel Hunter.
“These plans have a lot of flexibility,” Hunter said. “The Unlimited Plan is not an either/or. It gives you unlimited dining hall options throughout the week while also giving you retail options that so many students love.”
Freshmen living in residence halls are automatically assigned the Unlimited 7 Day with $275 FlexBucksbut can choose to switch to the Unlimited 5 Day with $500 FlexBucks for the same price or upgrade to the Unlimited 7 Day with $450 FlexBucks.
The seven-day plan provides unlimited access every day to McCallie Dining Hall or Monday through Friday at Farmers Market. The five-day plan provides unlimited access to both locations Monday through Friday.
“I tell students to treat this place like it’s your own refrigerator,” Hunter said. Dorm fridges are a great place to keep leftovers you can use for late-night snacks, too.Rachel Hunter
Freshmen living in Scarlett Commons or Womack Lane Apartments are automatically assigned the Weekly 7 Plan with $550 FlexBucks but can also choose to upgrade to any unlimited plan. The Weekly 7 Plan provides seven meals each week and a larger amount of FlexBucks.
Although freshmen residents are required to purchase plans, other students can purchase any of the plans.
Create Your Own
The Create Your Own plans allow students to choose between 100, 75 or 50 meals and $500, $400 or $300 in FlexBucks per semester for a plan that works best for them. These meals are accepted for all-you-care-to-eat dining in McCallie or Farmers Market or as meal equivalency in campus Provisions on Demand markets and restaurant locations.
“The only difference is, instead of having the unlimited dining hall access, you have a specific number of meal swipes that are allotted to you for the semester that you’ve purchased,” Hunter explained.
For instance, if you have 50 meal swipes that means that no matter where you go, whether it’s the dining hall or same meal equivalency options, it will deduct from that total number. And the more swipes you buy, the less the cost per meal.
Create Your Own meal swipes that are remaining at the end of the fall semester will carry over to the spring semester and all FlexBucks for all plans that are remaining at the end of the fall semester will carry over to the spring semester.
All meal plans offer the opportunity to exchange meals for value in select retail locations on campus Monday through Friday. For students with unlimited meal plans, they receive a meal equivalency swipe at each meal period in addition to their unlimited dining at McCallie and Farmers Market, including a late-night meal swipe at Starbucks.
Meal equivalency swipes are worth $7 each during breakfast, lunch and dinner meal periods and $5 for Starbucks late night. If you go over the allotted $7, that’s where the FlexBucks come in handy.
You can only use meal equivalency swipes at select locations during each specified meal period and you must make sure you tell the cashier that’s how you wish your plan to be used. The Meal Equivalency Fact Sheet under Meal Plans 101 on the MT Dining website spells it out in detail and Hunter suggests taking a photo of it with your phone to have as a reference.
Invariably, parents will contact Hunter two weeks into the semester to say their student has blown through their entire FlexBucks account.
• Breakfast (7-10:30 a.m.): Chick-fil-A, RaiderZone Grill, and Brewed Awakenings
• Lunch (10:30 a.m.-4 p.m.): Chick-fil-A, Brewed Awakenings, RaiderZone Grill, Subway
• Dinner (4 p.m.): RaiderZone Grill, Twisted Taco, Panda Express, Starbucks
• Late night (10 p.m.): Starbucks
If you choose to use your meal as an equivalency swipe, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting the full $7 value each time. If you plan on spending less than the allotted $7, that’s when it’s best to just use the FlexBucks.
MT Dining also offers mobile ordering through Grubhub using Meal Equivalency, FlexBucks, Credit/Debit, and Raider Funds, which is MTSU’s debit account.
For more details, visit https://mtsu.campusdish.com/ or call MT Dining at 615-898-2675.
— Nancy DeGennaro (Nancy.DeGennaro@mtsu.edu)