Alan's Carnegie Mellon Page

All about the Meal Plan

Maybe you've heard stories about the freshman meal plan and how much it sucks. Maybe you're curious what it entails. Here's information about the meal plan to help satisfy your appetite for curiousity (pun, painfully, intended).
Some information from David Chen for the 2009-2010 year:

A group within the School of Computer Science's business incubator, Project Olympus, created an online ordering service for students to order food (and in the near future, grocery/convenience delivery).

CollegeBite will be accepting DineX orders for Vocelli soon, as part of a trial, and if the demand is great enough, we'll be working to allow students to spend DineX on a wider variety of restaurants. I was wondering if you would be able to help me get the word out so students are aware of this new service, which is completely free (we don't charge a service fee like CampusFood) and sponsored by the University. I believe a lot of students can benefit from these new ways to spend their DineX and access to more restaurants in general.

Here is some information clarifying our relationship with the University: CollegeBite is a brand of Fooala, Inc., which is a startup spinoff of the School of Computer Science. Here is our profile page -

What's Open?

msarnoff wrote this script to tell you what eating locations are open at any given time. Visit it!

Choosing a plan

As a freshman, you have 3 levels to choose from: Gold, Silver, and Bronze Green, Blue, and Red (there is also a commuter option for people not in campus housing). In each of these levels are 6 sub-levels that offer options. Each level costs a different amount (Gold is the most expensive, Bronze is the cheapest), and offer a different number of blocks and dinex every two weeks. The sublevels within each level range from all blocks and no dinex (with the most extreme being Gold-1, which offers 42 blocks every two weeks) to a lot of dinex and few blocks (the minimum being 21 on the Bronze-6 plan). All freshmen meal plans consist of Meal Blocks, Schatz Blocks, and DineXtra
Upperclassmen may choose from 3 meal block plans (5, 10, or 15 blocks every 2 weeks) and a few dinex-only plans.

Meal Blocks

Meal blocks will buy you a meal and, theoretically, have no cash value. Dining places have set block meals that you must choose from. Only one block may be used per dining period per day. The dining periods are:
Breakfast - M-F, morning until 10:30
Brunch - Sa/Su, morning until 4:30
Lunch - M-F, 10:30 until 4:30
Dinner - M-Su, 4:30 until 8:00
Late Night - M-Su, 8:00 until close

Schatz Blocks

One meal block per week is specifically set aside for Schatz, the all you care to eat dining hall on campus. These two blocks every two weeks will never be used unless you go eat at Schatz. This is probably the worst part of the meal plan.


Dinex works like a debit card. You start with a certain amount of dinex dollars every two weeks. Dinex may be used in any amount at any time at any vendor on campus, or at four off-campus locations: Vocelli's Pizza (they deliver), Subway on Craig Street, The O in Oakland, and Eat n' Park in Squirrel Hill.
DineXtra for freshmen expires every two weeks. DineXtra for upperclassmen expires at the end of the academic year.


Dining Services makes every dining location offer vegetarian and vegan food. However, the options for vegans are quite limited, while vegetarians will find the offerings repetitive.


The main vendors on campus include:
The O Infamous. Hot dogs, burgers. Also, massive piles of fries. Located on UC first floor.
CK's Pretzels Pretzels, rice bowls, greek platters, pizza... nice variety. UC second floor.
Carnegie Mellon Cafe Typical "cafe" food and drinks. Resnik, Highlander Cafe.
Maggie Murph Cafe Don't know much about this place. Hunt Library.
Marketplace Consists of Sushi Two (sushi, duh), international market (cafeteria food), salad bar, pizza, convenience items, Bento Bowl, and pasta. UC second floor.
Si Senor Psudo-mexican food. UC second floor. UC first floor.
East Street Deli Sandwiches. UC second floor.
Skibo Coffeehouse with selection of sandwiches and soups. UC second floor.
Schatz The infamous all-you-care-to-eat. Typical cafeteria food. UC second floor.
Andy's Wraps, salad, and smoothies. UC basement.
Asiana Pan asian food, or some weird mutation thereof. Newell-Simon third floor.
Main Street Market Pizza, soup, sandwiches, and various other items. Newell-Simon third floor.
La Prima Fancy coffee cart with sandwiches, pastries, and desserts. Wean fifth floor.
Ginger's Actual food food. Hot foods, soup, sandwiches, wraps. Posner first floor (Ginger's expresses located in Baker basement and Purnell first floor).
Zebra Lounge Coffeeshop. CFA first floor.
Underground American food. Burgers, pasta, sandwiches. Morewood Gardens.
Taste of India Indian food. Dinner is all-you-can-eat. Lunch: OSC second floor. Dinner: Resnik, Highlander Cafe

In addition, dinex is accepted at these off-campus locations:
Eat n' Park American food. Nice escape from campus food though, and smiley cookies are good. Murray Avenue (take a 61C to Forbes and Murray, get off at the next stop)
Vocelli's Pizza. Very good pizza. Delivers.
The O The O in Oakland... not much point to go there since there's one on campus. Forbes Avenue (walk down toward UPitt, or take any 61)

So what's so bad about it?

So what's so bad about the meal plan?
First, the fact that all your unused blocks and dinex expire every two weeks (if you're a freshman) means that you often must eat when you don't want to, or risk wasting money that was sunk into the meal plan. Dinex is often wasted carelessly by freshmen on overpriced goods at Grab n' Go because of this fact, and many people end up with crates of drinks they simply don't need.
Second, meal blocks are severely limiting. Only one or two places will let you custom-taylor a block, meaning you're stuck eating the same blocks all year, two or three times a day. Only one block may be used per time period, so there's no way to spend your remaining 8 blocks when you're looking at your account information Saturday afternoon (meal plan ends Sunday with late night).
Third, the Schatz block forces you into eating there, whether you like it or not. Most people don't (some people keep chuck tallies to see how many times Schatz has made them barf).
Fourth, the fact that dinex is not accepted at Entropy means there's not many options for dinex usage. Usually it ends up being spent on junk that you wouldn't buy if you were using cash.
Fifth, the meal plan sucks when break comes around. Often, the places available when break is approaching are limited to one or two vendors (and they're usually the worst ones). During break itself, meal plan cuts off and you're on your own.
Trust me, it's worst than it sounds at first glance.
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