Mandatory Meal Plans Frequently Asked Questions
Choosing a Meal Plan
- Which Mandatory Meal Plan is right for me?
Meal Plans Cougar Blue Tukwut Paw 19 MPW +$75 Dining Dollars $2,368 per semester 15 MPW +$400 Dining Dollars $2,368 per semester 12 MPW +$625 Dining Dollars $2,368 per semester I like to eat early and before I go up to campus. X I want to eat most of my meals while on campus at USU Pavilion (Think Food Court, Market, Starbucks). X I am not on campus on the weekends. X I only want to eat dinner at Campus Way Café. X I will NOT eat every meal at Campus Way Café. X I need flexibility with my meal plan. X X X
- What are the available Mandatory Meal Plan Options?
Meal plan costs will be as follows.
Cost Per Semester
Cost Per Year
Cougar Blue Plan
19 MPW +$75 Dining Dollars
15 MPW + $400 Dining Dollars
12 MPW + $625 Dining Dollars
- How do I select a Meal Plan?
Here is the step by step process for selecting a meal plan.
- What does MPW mean?
Meals Per Week (MPW) offer a specified number of meals each week during the meal plan period and reset weekly on Sunday morning at 12:00 am. Unused meals expire weekly when the plan resets. Because unused MPW expire weekly, it is strongly encouraged that students select a WMP that suits their specific dietary needs. Weekly Meal Plans are pro-rated according to the CSUSM academic calendar. Weekly Meal Plans are not available during Winter Break although Dining Dollars will be available for use at select retail dining locations on campus. These breaks are factored into the price of the Meal Plans. Please refer to the website for the Campus Dining service days calendar.
- What does BLOCK mean?
Block Meals offer a fixed number of meals (Block), which carry over from week-to-week throughout the semester for which the Block was purchased. Block meals will roll over from the Fall semester to the Spring semester but will expire at the end of the Spring Semester. Block meals are not available during Winter Break although Dining Dollars will be available for use at select retail dining locations on campus. These breaks are factored into the price of the Meal Plans. Please refer to the website for the Campus Dining service days calendar.
- What are Dining Dollars?
Dining dollars are a cash equivalent which comes with a meal plan and can be used at the café, any of the USU eateries or Starbucks in the library. Whenever a student makes a purchase, they can simply present their meal plan app to the cashier and the amount will be deducted from their balance. Unused Dining Dollars at the end of the Fall Semester will roll over to the Spring semester. Dining Dollars expire on the last day of the Spring semester. Unused balances are forfeited and not refundable. Should students purchase a meal plan for the following Fall semester, up to $100 of the leftover Spring Dining Dollar balance will be carried forward to the Fall semester. Any amount over $100 shall be forfeited and not refundable. If a student has a balance less than $100 at the end of the Spring semester and they purchase a meal plan for the following Fall semester, that balance will carry over to the Fall semester. Fall meal plans must be purchased by the last day of the previous Spring semester. Carryover Dining Dollars are subject to a meal plan purchase for the following fall semester and will be forfeited in whole by the student should they cancel their fall meal plan purchase for any reason.
- What is Cougar Cash?
Cougar cash is a cash equivalent loaded onto the Meal Plan's cougar cash account and can be used at the café, any of the USU eateries or Starbucks in the library.
Cougar cash can be added to the Cougar cash account at any time through the Dining Page in the CSUSM app or online. Whenever a student makes a purchase, they can simply present their QR Code in the campus app to the cashier and the amount will be deducted from their balance. Cougar cash accounts will be accessible through the same app as the meal plan.
You do not need to have a meal plan to load Cougar Cash onto your account.
- Who is required to buy a meal plan?
Participation in a meal plan is mandatory for all residents of the North Commons.
- Why am I required to be on a meal plan?
Unlike the QUAD and UVA, the North Commons does not have kitchens within the units, so the new dining café will serve as the campus dining room for all students living in this community.
The dining program provides students with a safe and comfortable extension of their home to get healthy, affordable, well-balanced meals. Campus dining fosters community growth, enhances the quality of campus life and contributes to the social components by providing additional space for meetings with faculty and other students.
Studies show that students who live and eat on campus are more likely to stay on campus for other events and use university services than those who commute. For First-Year students, the academic transition to college can be challenging, we want our students to have the opportunity to focus on their academic pursuits instead of worrying about cooking, cleaning, and grocery shopping.
- When do I need to select a meal plan?
Residents in the North Commons can select a meal plan beginning June 1, 2022. Meal plan choices must be made prior to move-in.
- I’m on the waitlist for North Commons, do I have to select a meal plan?
Students on the waitlist for the North Commons housing will not select a meal plan until they have a spot in the community.
- Will there be a meal plan option for CalFresh recipients?
- Can I be exempt from purchasing a meal plan?
Paying for or Changing a Meal Plan
- Where do I purchase a meal plan?
You can purchase a Meal Plan HERE
Fall 2022 Meal plans can be selected online or through the Dining Page in the CSUSM app, starting June 1, 2022. Meal plans for spring 2023 will become available starting November 1, 2022.
The cost of your meal plan will be added to your student account, viewable through your MyCSUSM portal. You also pay through your MyCSUSM portal, just as you would for tuition and housing.
- Can I change my meal plan if it does not fit my needs, or cancel if I am withdrawing
Mandatory plans can be changed, however, if you are living in North Commons, you must choose a Cougar Blue Plan, Tukwut Plan, or Paw Plan. These changes can be made prior to the end of the Add/Drop deadline, online or through the Dining Page in the CSUSM app. It can take up to 48 hours for changes to be fully processed in the system.
Refunds will be granted under certain circumstances only. Please refer to the Cancellations and Refunds section of the Student Dining Meal Plan Contract. Contact Dining Services for additional questions. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Can I or someone else add more money or meals to my meal plan?
Yes, cougar cash can be added to meal plans by you or someone you know online or through the Dining Page in the CSUSM app at any time. A Step-By-Step process for this is coming soon.
You cannot add more MPW meals or Block meals during the semester because it will change the meal plan type. You will, however be able to change your meal plan during the inter-semester period.
- What will happen to my Declining Balance Card?
Nothing! The Declining Balance Card program is a separate, parallel system, and so will be accessible before and after you sign up for a meal plan. Your Declining Balance will roll over between semesters and years, and be accessible as usual. You may spend them at any of the previous dining locations, as well as in the Campus Way Café.
How do I use my Meal Plan
- How many meals can I redeem within one day?
Only one meal can be redeemed per meal period (meal periods include Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Brunch, Late Night) Each time the QR Code is scanned a meal will be deducted from the allotted MPW or Block meals available.
- What forms of Payment are accepted in the Dining Cafe?
The Campus Way Cafe accepts the following: Credit Cards, Debit Cards, Cash, Dining Dollars, Cougar Cash and Meal Swipes (MPW meals and Block meals).
Anyone using Credit Cards, Debit Cards, Cash, Dining Dollars and Cougar Cash for entrance into the all-you-care-to-eat facility will be charged the meal rate for their transaction. See rates below.
- When does the meal plan begin?
Meal Plans begin August 26, 2022 for the Fall Semester and January 20, 2023 for the Spring Semester. In the meantime, for other campus eateries, please visit https://www.csusm.edu/corp/dining/dininghours.html for hours of operation.
- How do I use my meal plan to get food? Do I need a swipe card?
All you need is your digital Campus ID Card, accessed through the CSUSM Campus mobile app on your phone. Scan your Campus ID Card at the register at any of our participating dining locations.
- Where can I use my meal plan?
Location Meal Plan Payment Options Accepted Campus Way Café Meals Per Week (MPW), Block Meals, Dining Dollars, Cougar Cash USU Market Dining Dollars, Cougar Cash USU (Panda, QDOBA, Hilltop Bistro Grille, Get Fresh) Dining Dollars, Cougar Cash Starbucks Dining Dollars, Cougar Cash Coffee Cart None
- Can I eat in the dining café without a meal plan?
Yes! There will be a walk-in rate available to those interested in dining in the facility. Price does vary by meal time and are more expensive than the price-per-meal of the meal plan.
- How can I check how many meals I have left in my plan?
Students may check their remaining meal and other balances online or through the campus app.
- I have special food needs (allergies, intolerances). Who can help me?
Please contact the Dining Services to ensure the dining café can meet your needs.
Eating in the Campus Way Cafe
- Can I check what will be on the menu in advance?
Yes. Visit Sodexo My Way for additional information on menus.
- Can we take food out of the Campus Way Café?
If you are on the run and unable to enjoy a meal in the café, you can purchase food from the Campus Way Market area in the front using their dining dollars or cougar cash.
All-you-care-to-eat meals from Campus Way Cafe may not be taken “to go”, unless specifically authorized for a student who is unable to go to the Campus Way Café (examples include: illness, injury, isolation, etc). The Resident Advisor or Resident Director may contact a CSUSM Dining Services manager to make special arrangements for a meal or meals to be picked up on the student’s behalf.
- Will the Campus Way Café be open over breaks?
Campus Way Cafe will be closed over winter break, however, some type of dining option will be available for students during part of Winter break, Thanksgiving break, and Spring break.
WINTER BREAK: Dining dollars can be used at retail locations December 18th - December 22nd and January 3rd - January 19th. All dining locations will be closed December 23rd - January 2nd.
The Campus Way Cafe will reopen for the Spring 2023 semester on January 20, 2023.
- What are the hours of the Campus Way Café?
Use the CSUSM app to view hours or visit Sodexo My Way and see "What's Open Now" and "Hours of Operation" for another way to view current hours.
Hours of Operation:
Lunch / Brunch
- What are the rules of the Campus Way Café?
All patrons of the dining café must follow all CSUSM, CSUSM Corporation, and Sodexo policies, rules and regulations. Shoes and shirts must be worn at all times and only food in the appropriate To-Go container is allowed to leave the facility. Failure to comply with all policies, procedures and rules, may result in a suspension or revocation of the meal plan and or access to the Campus Way Café.
- What items are prohibited in the Campus Way Café?
Skateboards, bikes, scooters, to-go containers (i.e. Tupperware) and outside food will not be allowed in the Campus Way Café.
- Can others join me at the Campus Way Café if they don’t have a meal plan?
Yes, friends can certainly join students with meal plans at the Campus Way Café. They can pay the door price upon entering, or the student with a meal plans can use their dining dollars or cougar cash to treat them to a meal. Door prices vary by meal time and are more expensive than the price-per-meal of the meal plan.
- Can I use my meal plan for guests in the Campus Way Café?
MPW and Block meals are only allowed for the student on the meal plan. Students can use their dining dollars or cougar cash to purchase meals for other students/guests.