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How Traditional Meal Plans Work

Dining Guide - Everything You Need To Know

How Meal Plans Work - Meal Swipes, MPD and Mal Periods

For unlimited dining, your meal swipe can be used once per meal period at Bates House, Honeycomb Café and Gibbes Court Bistro. Swipe and enjoy all-you-care-to-eat per meal period!

A swipe can only be used once per meal period and up to the allotted retail credit at on-campus retail restaurants. If your meal total is at or below the retail credit amount, we'll swipe your card and you'll be on your way! If your meal total is above the retail credit amount, you can pay the balance with: Meal Plan Dollars, Carolina Ca$h, cash or a debit/credit card. It's that simple. 

Meal Periods: 28 per week (4 per day)

  • Breakfast: 6:00 a.m. - 10:59 a.m. 
  • Lunch: 11:00 a.m. - 3:59 p.m. 
  • Dinner: 4:00 p.m. – 11:59 p.m.
  • Late Night: 12:00 a.m. – 3:30 a.m.

*The basic Carolina 10 meal plan only allows for 21 meal periods per week, 3 per day, excluding late night meal period. 

The meal plan week starts Friday morning with breakfast at 6:00 a.m. and ends Thursday night with late night at 3:00 a.m. Meals not used by Thursday late night will be forfeited.  Meal plans reload for the week for Friday Breakfast.   Students on a meal plan get one swipe per meal period.

Example #1: Stan chooses the Garnet 14 silver meal plan. Stan will be on campus a full week. He uses the following:

  • Friday: 4 meals
  • Saturday: 3 meals
  • Sunday: 2 meals
  • Monday: 3 meals

Tuesday: Stan only has 2 meals left to use through Thursday with zero balance meal plan dollars.

Stan should consider upgrading to a larger plan based on his eating patterns.

Example #2: Sarah chooses the Carolina 10 gold meal plan. Sarah will be on campus a full week. She uses the following:

  • Most Mornings: - $5-“meal plan dollars” for breakfast at Starbucks –
  • Friday: 2 meals
  • Saturday: 2 meals
  • Sunday: 2 meals
  • Monday: 2 meals
  • Tuesday: 2 meals

Sarah does not have any meals past Tuesday and her “meal plan dollars” will run out early in the semester.

Sarah should consider upgrading to a larger plan based on her eating patterns.

FAQ - Traditional Meal Plans

I have special dietary needs; what do I do?

If you have a food allergy or intolerance, it is important to learn about our choices. Nutrition information for menu items, including common food allergens are available on our website. If you need additional information, please contact Student Disability Services at (803) 777-6142.

How does my meal plan work?

Depending on your meal plan, you are allotted a certain number of meal swipes per week (21, 16, 14 or 10). You can use up to four meal swipes per day, during designated meal periods. You can only use one meal swipe per meal period.

What happens to meal swipes I do not use?

Unused meal swipes expire at the end of the week (after Thursday Late Night) and meal plans expire at the end of the semester.

How do meal plan dollars work?

Meal Plan Dollars or MPD are designed to help pay for snacks, coffee, fruit OR overages at retail locations when using a meal swipe. They can also be used for elite events and for extra meals throughout the week. Unused Meal Plan Dollars expire at the end of the semester. 

Where can I use my meal plan?

Your meal plan can be used at any of our 31 on-campus dining locations. Even at Starbucks? Yes, but not the one in the bookstore.

Do I get whatever I want with my meal swipe?

If dining in one of our all-you-care-to-eat dining halls, (Gibbes Court, Bates Diner or Honeycomb Cafe) each meal swipe is unlimited! If dining in a retail location, depending on the meal period, you have an allotted amount to spend;

  • Breakfast - $5.30
  • Lunch - $6.65
  • Dinner - $7.15
  • Late night - $7.15

If you go over that amount you can pay with meal plan dollars, CarolinaCa$h, cash or credit/debit.

Can I change my meal plan during the semester?

You can always upgrade you meal plan at any point in the semester. You can only downgrade your meal plan until the end of the first week of classes. If you upgrade mid-semester the price will be prorated.

Is my meal plan refundable if I am suspended during the semester?

Your meal planis notrefundable if you're suspended during the semester. 

In This Section
Important Info

Meal Swipes

  • Designed for All-You-Care-To-Eat dining locations   
  • Meal swipes can be used in retail dining locations with retail meal swipe credit (See below for details) 
  • Use up to 4 meal swipes per day 
  • Only one meal swipe can be used per meal period 
  • Meal swipes expire at the end of each week (Start Friday Breakfast - End Thursday Late Night)

Meal Plan Dollars - Logo

  • Tax-free spending at all 31 dining locations 
  • Designed to help pay for snacks, coffee, or overages at retail locations when using a meal swipe 
  • Great for special events and for extra meals throughout the week 
  • Unused Meal Plan Dollars expire at the end of each semester

Meal Periods

Breakfast: 6:00 a.m. - 10:59 a.m.
Lunch: 11:00 a.m. - 3:59 p.m.
Dinner: 4:00 p.m. - 11:59 p.m.
Late Night: 12:00 a.m. - 3:00 a.m.

Swipe Credit

Breakfast: $5.30
Lunch: $6.65
Dinner: $7.15
Late Night: $7.15

University of South Carolina | Dining Services | 915 Gregg Street | Columbia, SC 29208 | tel. (803) 777-4161 | Contact Us