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Background and Goals

Campus Dining Goals

The goal of building a Dining Café and introducing meal plans to CSUSM students is to provide 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.

  • Convenience
    • Students can spend more time on academic and other personal pursuits, no Cooking, cleaning, shopping or driving.
    • Most convenient way for students to save time and eat a well-balanced meal.
    • Location - on the first floor of the QUAD housing community. It is close to residents and across the street from CSUSM’s student centers in the EL building.
  • Flexibility
    • Meal Plans are built to match CSUSM students’ lifestyles. Based on eating habits, there are different plan options.
    • Meal plans are made up of meal swipes, and dining dollars. Dining dollars can be used any USU eatery or Starbucks.
    • Dining café hours will meet our student’s needs; early morning to late night and on weekends.
  • Quality
    • Dining cafe will offer fresh food with a variety of made-to-order options.
    • Dishes will meet the needs of all students with themed creations, globally-inspired dishes, allergen free dishes, vegan dishes, and gluten free dishes.
    • Healthy, well-balanced meals are important to our students.
  • Value/Affordability
    • Dining cafe will offer the best value all-you-care-to-eat options. Cost per meal (on meal plans) are as low as $7.19 per meal.
    • Student’s time and money is very valuable. Reduce costs for gas, groceries, and eating out. It also saves time, and limits the concerns about what is in the fridge or finding the time to grocery shop.
    • A meal plan can decrease roommate conflicts resulting in an increase of the enjoyment of being in their living space.
  • Sustainability
    • Trayless Dining encourages customers to take only what they can eat, and reduces food waste by an estimated 1.5 ounces per person each meal. Trayless dining helps prevent nearly 75 pounds of food waste per person each year.
    • Reusable To-Go containers will be offered at the dining cafe to allow students on the go, to bring a meal with them.
    • Sodexo will continue to purchase local seasonal produce when possible and reduce inorganic and organic waste.
    • Dining cafe will have reusable service-ware, reducing the waste associated with paper and plastic products.
  • Collaboration
    • Opportunity for the Cougar Care Network to partner with Sodexo for meal offerings.
    • Student Housing Advisory Committee collaborates with CSUSM divisions and student groups.
    • Dining café purchases support CSUSM students in the form of scholarships, services, jobs, and more.
    • Serves as a ‘campus dining room’ - a point for students who are constrained by schedules to have meetings community meals, and programming events with other students, faculty, and staff.
  • Future and Low-Cost Housing
    • Provides an opportunity to build and expand housing
    • Creation of traditional first-year housing
    • In student lifecycle, the first-year housing should be community oriented
    • Access to on-campus dining


  • In Fall 2016, we began conversations with the ASI Presidents and/or ASI Representatives about the future of housing and dining.
  • The CSUSM Corporation Student Housing Advisory Committee started looking into dining options in March 2017​. This included a tour of other campus' dining facilities. 
  • In Spring 2019, a Housing Demand Study was conducted which showed a need for more student housing.
  • In Fall 2019, a dining plan was explored and the first floor of the QUAD was identified as the ideal location for the new CSUSM dining facility. 
  • March 2020, the dining program was put on hold.
  • Summer 2021, dining was revisited by the CSUSM Corporation now that new student housing was being developed directly adjacent to campus.  
  • In Fall 2021, the demand study was updated based on updated enrollment and the the future growth of the campus.

Addressing Student Concerns

  • Meal Plans will only be required for students living in the North Commons community. Residents of the UVA and the QUAD will not be required to purchase a meal plan, however, if they would like to, they can. 

  • Sodexo, CSUSM's dining partner will be operating the new dining café and has notified CSUSM that they do not have any prison contracts in the United States.

  • North Commons residents who are unable to eat in the new dining café due to medical reasons will be able to apply for a Meal Plan Exemption. Please reach out to for more information on this process.

  • North Commons residents who are receiving CalFresh benefits will be eligible for a CalFresh meal plan which has been designed so that it will not impact student's ability to continue to receive the CalFresh benefits. Please reach out to for more information on this process.

  • CSUSM Corporation and Sodexo continue to work with CSUSM students on all campus dining matters. CSUSM Corporation has a Student Housing and DIning Advisory committee and has invited student leaders from ASI, Residence Hall Council and other student groups to join the committee. 

  • Sodexo has invested in a registered dietitian and a regional sustainability manager in an effort to support campus initiatives to promote healthy eating and reduce waste in all campus dining eateries.