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student studying in the dining room

Frequently Asked Questions

We get asked questions all the time -- here are a few of the most asked questions.

If you can't find what you're looking for, please contact us at 970-351-2652 or diningservices@unco.edu.

Meal Plans

  • I live on campus in a residence hall. Why do I have to carry a meal plan?

    Residence halls do not have the adequate facilities for storage, preparation, or clean-up of meals for large numbers of students. Hall kitchens are OK for small batches of cookies or making popcorn, but they're not sufficient for you to prepare well-balanced, nutritious meals on a daily basis. Having meals prepared for you allows you to focus on your education instead of trying to figure out what (or how) to cook for dinner.

    All first-year students living on campus who are under the age of 20 or have completed less than 20 credit hours are required to carry one of 3 On Campus Meal Plans (the Any Meal / Any Time meal plan, the 19 Meals Per Week meal plan, or the 14 Meals Per Week meal plan).

    Once you reach either of the two criteria mentioned above, you are eligible to reduce to one of the lower On Campus Meal Plans for the next semester. You can change your meal plan through the Drop Deadline of each semester (10th day of classes).

    NOTE: Upperclassmen living in Lawrenson Hall or the Arlington Park Apartments can choose to carry any meal plan or drop it completely.

  • I'm either eligible to reduce my meal plan or live off campus... which meal plan should I choose?

    Your choice of meal plans is a very personal choice. You need to think about what your class schedule is like, along with work and social time. If you are only going to be on campus 3 days a week, a 50 Bear Plan may be optimal for your eating habits. If you want lunch and dinner every week day, the 120 or 160 Bear Plans would work very well.

    Learn more about choosing the right meal plan for you!

    The one piece of information we always tell students is to remember that meals are only valid for the semester the meal plan is purchased. Meals will not be carried forward, and there is no monetary refund for uneaten meals. We would definitely rather you have to add meals on when you run out than have you lose meals because you purchased too many.

  • What are some of the benefits of having a meal plan?

    Dining Services provides on campus dining options for students, faculty, staff, and guests of the University of Northern Colorado. When it comes to meals, leave the shopping, cooking, and cleaning to us -- you will have more time for studying and social activities. 

  • How much do the meal plans cost?

    We have several different options for students living on and off campus. Please click the following links to see what we have to offer:

  • How do you maintain the cost of a meal plan?

    A good rule to live by is "Take what you want, and eat what you take." Taking one portion at a time helps you manage the amount of food you eat. You're more than welcome to go back for seconds as often as you want in Holmes and Tobey-Kendel, but we ask you to only take one entrée at a time. (We often refer to this as the "one entrée" rule.) Food waste adds to the cost of the meal plan.

    All You Care To Eat -- while you are in Holmes Dining Hall and Tobey-Kendel Dining Room. Taking food out of the dining rooms for later meals or snacks is not part of the meal plan.

    Leave it here -- the dishes, silverware, and glassware are provided for your use while you are in the dining rooms. Taking these items is theft and prevents us from providing quality service to you. Replacement of these items adds many dollars to the cost of the meal plan. 

  • Can I use one of my meals to bring in a friend?

    On Campus Meal Plans are intended for your use only, so if you would like to swipe friends in on your meal plan, we recommend using your Bonus Meals. They're also handy if you run out of meals during the week! If you don't want to use your Bonus Meals, guests and visitors are welcome to pay cash prices at the door.

    Bear Plans are made for flexibility, so use as many swipes as you want to at a time -- they're yours to use throughout the semester. 

  • How much does a meal cost for guests and visitors?

    We welcome all guests and visitors into our dining locations. View Guest & Visitor Prices for our dining rooms. 

  • When does a new week start with my meal swipes?

    When you're at the dining room, you may notice that your meals seem to count down to zero. Don't worry, this is normal!

    For On Campus Meal Plan purposes, the new week starts Monday morning. Your meals will reset Sunday night when the nightly process runs. Meals not consumed each week are forfeited.

    For Bear Plan holders, your balance really does count down to zero. When you're close to being out of meals, be sure to add on a small package of meals!

  • When/where/how can I change my meal plan? Can I switch meal plans?

    Students having completed 20 credit hours or who are age 20 and older living in any residence hall may re-contract for a lesser On Campus Meal Plan by 5pm on the Drop Deadline (the 10th day of classes).

    You can fill out a new contract at any dining room, the UC Card Office, or in the Dining Services Office in Tobey-Kendel Hall, room 120 -- or you can use the online dining contract and submit your request online.

    Even though Lawrenson Hall is on campus, we consider it to have "off campus" status. Students living in Lawrenson can choose any meal plan that is offered, or none at all. Contact Dining Services by email at diningservices@unco.edu or call us at 970-351-2652 for more information.

  • Do Bear Plans or Dining Dollars carry over to next semester?

    Meal plans (On Campus Meal Plans, Bear Plans, and Dining Dollars) are only valid for the semester the plan is purchased. Meals will not be carried forward, and there is no monetary refund for uneaten meals. We would rather you have to add meals when you run out than have you lose meals because you purchased too many. Summer Bear Plans are available during summer session only.

    Dining Dollars are a bit different -- balances will carry forward from Fall to Spring, but they expire at the end of Spring semester. Summer Dining Dollars (as well as meal plans) are available during summer session only.

What If...

  • What if I have classes during the scheduled meal hours? Are sack lunches available?

    You have a busy schedule, so we do realize you might have some time conflicts with the dining room hours of operation. Our to go options are easy to use and convenient.

    If you are in a hurry, stop by Holmes DIning Hall and get a Gourmet to Go instead of sitting down and eating in the dining room. These "sack lunches" can be picked up Monday through Friday during lunch.

    You could also choose a Bear On The Run if you wanted to have what's being served in the dining room. The initial Bear On The Run container will cost you $5, but you can pay for it with your Dining Dollars, if you want. This is a great way to help us be more sustainable. When you're done using you container, just bring it back with you, and we'll give you a clean one (or a caribbiner if you don't want a to go right then).

  • What if I don't have time to come to the Dining Services Office to sign a meal contract? Can I sign up online? Can my parents sign me up instead? Can I sign up over the phone?

    Truly, we do realize you are going to be super busy at times, but there are only 2 ways to sign up for a meal plan: in person or online.

    Your meal contract is a legal and binding document, so no one but the student (the person who is going to be using the meal plan) can actually sign the contract. In other words, parents are more than welcome to call and get information for their student, but the student is actually the one who needs to sign the contract.

    It would be easy and convenient if we could accept dining contract orders over the phone, but we are not able to do that. Unfortunately, there is no way for us to verify the identity caller as the actual student purchasing the meal plan. Since dining contracts are legal and binding contracts, we are required to ensure the person signing the contract is the student.

  • What if my friend wants to join me at dinner but doesn't have a meal plan -- can they just sit with me?

    Your friend is welcome to join you for a meal, but they'll need to pay to get in. Because the dining rooms are "all you care to eat" facilities, everyone who comes into the dining room needs to pay for a meal. If you have an On Campus Meal Plan, you're welcome to swipe them in using one of your Bonus Meals. Or if you have a Bear Plan, you can swipe them in using your plan.

  • What do I do if my UNC Card is lost, stolen, or destroyed?

    If your UNC Card is lost or stolen, you need to go to the UNC Card Office immediately to avoid financial liability. The card replacement fee is currently $20-$30, subject to change. If you can take in the majority of the pieces of your broken ID card, your card replacement should be waived. Essentially, if they can see that the card pieces were yours (shows your name/picture), you shouldn't be charged. But that's entirely up to the Card Office, so be sure to take as much of the broken card as possible!

    UNC Card Office website

    The checkstands at the dining rooms can tell if you have a meal plan or not, so it is imperative you bring your ID card. If you don't have your ID card on hand, you will be required to show a picture ID to prove who you are. If you don't have a picture ID, you will not be allowed into the dining room. Exceptions can be made by contacting the Dining Services Office at 970-351-2652 for more information.

  • What do I do if I've forgotten my UNC Card, or if it doesn't work?

    For security reasons, our policy is to not allow students in without their UNC Card.

    We understand circumstances will come up when you don't have your ID Card on hand, so you have 3 opportunities to “forget” your UNC Card and still be allowed into the dining room. (You must have a picture ID to prove who you are.) After you've used up your 3 chances, you will not be allowed into the dining rooms without your UNC Card.

    If your card is not working, the staff at the UC Card Office can assist you Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm.

  • What do I do if I am sick or unable to eat in the dining room? Are sick trays made available?

    We all feel "under the weather" from time to time, so if you are unable to join us in the dining room, we have a solution for you. What you will need to do is obtain a "meal take-out authorization" form from your R.A., the hall front desk, online on the Forms page, or the dining room checkstand. If you are unable to pick up the form in person (or can't download it off the web), someone else (your roommate, friend, or R.A.) can get the form for you and bring it back for you to fill out. Take the completed form to the dining room checker. If you are unable to pick the meal up on your own, a representative may do so only with your UNC Card and the form with your signature on it. When the form has been approved, they can pick the meal up for you. You have a choice of a Gourmet To Go or a "sick tray"... either way, the checker will assist you. Please contact the dining room manager if you have any questions. 

  • What I have special dietary needs and/or food allergies -- what can Dining Services do for me? 

    Dining Services makes every effort to accommodate a diverse array of dietary needs. Matthew Doyle, our Registered Dietitian, is available to answer any questions you might have about how we can help with your specific dietary considerations. The DASH is a good choice for students with allergies or dietary restrictions.

    Dining Services is committed to providing students with a variety of healthy and nutritious meal options. However, as over 6,000 students are served per day, individual meal requests can be considered only with documentation from a physician.

    If you have special dietary needs that are not being met, we urge you to contact our Registered Dietitian at 970-351-1961 or Matthew.Doyle@unco.edu.  Contact the Dining Services Office at 970-351-2652 for more information. We also have an award-winning Executive Chef on staff. Chef Aran Essig is also available for any questions or concerns you may have.

    We have vegan items too!

How Do I...

  • How do I get into the dining room? Do I need tickets? Do I get a special card that gives me access to just one dining room?

    Your student ID card (the UNC Card) is your access into the dining rooms. As long as you have a UNC Card (and a meal plan), you can get into the dining rooms. Students must present a machine-readable UNC Card to gain access.

    Your UNC Card serves as your meal access card to our dining locations. Treat it like cash or other credit cards you own. It is used each semester you are enrolled and is not transferable, negotiable, or salable to others.

  • How do I check the balance of my meal plan and/or Dining Dollars?

    Your best bet is to ask about your balance when the cashier swipes your card in the dining room. They can also run an "inquiry" on your card without charging you a meal if you forget to ask when your card is swiped.

  • How do I add meals when I've run out?

    It's easy! Just submit a new online dining contract, and we'll get those meals added to your account. It's a manual process, so they should be active and ready within 24-48 hours. If you submit your contract after 4pm on Friday, we won't get it until Monday, so be sure to have your confirmation page if you are going to eat before we get your meals added.


  • Am I assigned to eat in one dining room?

    You're free to choose to eat in any dining room you want, regardless of where you live!

    You can use your meal plan at the University Center Food Court, Bears Bistro, Tobey-Kendel Dining Room, or Holmes Dining Hall. Each dining room has a distinct atmosphere. Choose to eat close to your classes, residence, or grab a sack lunch from Tobey-Kendel Dining Room or Holmes Dining Hall. Traditional dining rooms are located in Tobey-Kendel and Holmes.

  • Can I still purchase a meal plan if I live off campus?

    Absolutely! We have On Campus Meal Plans AND Bear Plans for students living off-campus or in the Lawrenson Apartments, the Arlington Park Apartments, or the University-owned houses.

    Bear Plans come in packages of 160, 120, 80, 50, 25, and 10 meals per semester. These plans allow you maximum flexibility. You pay for a bulk amount of meals and can use them any time during the semester. An added option is that you can use more than one meal within a meal time, so you can treat your friends to a meal with your Bear Plan.

    Meals are ONLY valid for the semester the plan is purchased. Meals will not be carried forward, nor are there any monetary refunds for uneaten meals. Additional packages can be purchased if you run out. Contact the Dining Services Office at 970-351-2652 for more information or Bear Plan information.

  • How is the quality of food here at UNC?

    We know it's never going to be "mom's food," but we think it's pretty good!! If repeat business is any indication, our food is more than good!

    We have more and more students opting to purchase Bear Plans who don't live on campus. We have an award-winning Executive Chef on staff who plans fresh and interesting menus to keep students, faculty, staff, and guests impressed.

    For example, many of the baked goods are prepared fresh daily in each location. There is a special focus on Colorado grown or manufactured foods. We have several professional chefs and cooks here on staff, many of whom have been trained by the Culinary Institute of America. Our management team is nationally recognized and award-winning as well. Staff is trained in sanitation and safe food handling skills. We have found our customers enjoy the "food to order" and display cooking concepts, so that's what we're giving them.

  • Do you use brand name foods?

    YES! Dining Services is committed to providing students with a variety of healthy and nutritious meal options. We understand that serving brand name foods is very important.

  • What are the employment opportunities within Dining Services?

    You will work for an employer who offers flexible working hours, good pay, convenient locations, and a fun work environment. UNC Dining Services is the largest single employer of students on the UNC campus. We end up hiring about 400 students each year! Learn more about Job Opportunities. 

  • Are UNC dining facilities a nice place to socialize and enjoy a meal?

    ABSOLUTELY! The dining rooms here at UNC are a great place to meet and socialize with friends, meet with professors, and take time out of a busy day to enjoy a great meal. 

  • What are your hours of operation?

    Each of our dining rooms has a unique atmosphere and personality. Along with that, some hours of operation vary.

Didn't find what you were looking for? Please contact us at 970-351-2652 or diningservices@unco.edu.