Frequently Asked Questions
Below is a list of frequently asked questions. If you do not find the answer to your question here, please feel free to contact us.
What is the Five College Meal Exchange program?
If you have classes at Smith, Mount Holyoke, Amherst, or Hampshire College around mealtimes you can use you own school’s meal plan to eat at UMass Amherst. Contact the Meal Plan Office at (413)-545-5380 for more information.
Am I restricted to eat in one specific dining common?
With ALL Meal Plans, you can visit any of the four dining commons for the all-you-care-to-eat program. Your Campus Meal Plan (YCMP) and DC Basic Plan Meal Exchanges may also be used at any of our retail dining locations on campus.
How can I get a menu before I go to the dining commons?
Weekly menus for each of the dining commons are posted on this site under "Locations and Menus" and on the housing channel or you can download the UMass Dining App.
Can I get help with my special dietary needs?
Yes! Our two full-time Registered and Licensed Dietitians, Dianne Z. Sutherland and Sabrina Hafner, can provide counseling regarding nutrition and individual dietary needs, such as lactose intolerance and food allergies, to students on the meal plan, free of charge. You may make an appointment by calling (413) 545-2472 or via e-mail: [email protected]
Can I place table tents on the DC tables?
Due to the popularity of table tents, only 5 requests are allowed per week. All requests must be approved by Dining Services 3 weeks in advance. Only approved table tents from University Departments and Recognized Student Organizations will be accepted for distribution in the dining commons. NO commercial events or services may be advertised. For a complete set of guidelines, contact Dining Services at 545-2472.
What happens if I lose my UCard?
To prevent unauthorized use of your lost or stolen UCard, you must notify the UCard Office immediately by calling (413) 545-0197 or visiting the UCard Office in Room 168 Whitmore Administration Building. The cost to replace the UCard is $30.00. There will be no refunds issued for meals eaten by another student who has your UCard as you are responsible for reporting the lost or stolen UCard.
If I need help or have any concerns, where can I go?
It’s easy to get our attention and management staff is always available, so do not hesitate to ask for a manager, assistant manager, supervisor or chef directly. If you would rather stay anonymous, fill out a comment card or send an e-mail to [email protected] or call us at (413) 545-2472.
Are there any job opportunities at Dining Services?
Student employees are an essential part of our operation. Convenient on-campus locations, flexible hours, and the opportunity for student supervisory positions are just a few of the benefits of working in Dining Services. For student employment opportunities, review available positions on our web site: https://www.umass.edu/ae/
How can I select/change my meal plan?
You will be able to make a meal plan selection once fall semester bills are distributed. You will receive an email that your bill is ready for view from UMass Bursar’s Office. Log on to SPIRE and from main menu select finances> meal plan> fall/spring and you will see the options for meal plans that you are eligible for. If you are an off-campus student then you will also see an option for commuter meal plans and a no meal plan selection as well. SPIRE will update your bill the following day.
Are first year students assigned to a meal plan?
Yes, first year students default to the Unlimited 250 Plan.
What options are available for students with food allergies?
Students with food allergies or intolerances have a variety of choices at both the Residential Dining Commons and Retail Cafes. Every menu item has an identifier that includes ingredients, allergens (top 8 plus corn and sesame), nutrition facts, and more. Students may view each item’s nutritional profile on site, the UMass Dining mobile app, or on our website. In addition, our mobile app and website includes allergen filters so students can view what items are safe for them to consume at a specific dining location. If students need further assistance, they may email our registered dietitians at [email protected]
Do Winter/Summer meal swipes carry over to Fall/Spring semester?
What is a YCMP?
A YCMP is a meal swipe that can be used at any retail dining location for a maximum of $10.50 per swipe. It can also be used as a swipe to enter any of the DCs on campus.
Why are first year residential students required to purchase a meal plan?
In order to ensure that our students are eating, living, and learning in healthful ways, UMass Amherst requires all first year residential students to purchase a meal plan. The four Dining Commons at UMass Amherst are social and educational hubs on campus, and help to build community, encourage healthy living, and enrich the college experience.
Are returning students assigned to meal plans?
Students automatically reassigned, and billed, their previous semester meal plan. If you were not on a meal plan last semester and would like to purchase one, please do so on SPIRE before the end of Add/Drop period. See academic calendar at http://www.umass.edu/registrar/calendars/academic-calendar
When does my meal plan begin/end?
All semester meal plans follow the residence halls schedule of operations. Fall semester meal plans end the day after move-out day. Spring semester meal plans end the Sunday after Commencement. Meals do not carry forward from one semester to another; however, Dining Dollars carry forward from Fall to Spring semesters only.
How do I check my meal plan balance?
You can check your meal plan balance and usage online at https://get.cbord.com/umass
Am I required to purchase a meal plan?
All undergraduate students living in non-apartment style campus residence halls are required to purchase a meal plan. First-year and transfer residential students living in apartment and non-apartment style housing are automatically assigned to the Unlimited Plan.
May I use my friend’s meal plan?
Meal plans are not transferable between students. Keep your UCard secure at all times to prevent unauthorized use. Misuse of UCards will result in disciplinary measures.
Do you have a Kosher Meal Plan?
Yes, students may sign up for the Kosher Option listed on Spire. Our certified Kosher program is located at Franklin Dining Commons in the Central residential area. Our kosher meat (non-dairy) kitchen is under the strict supervision of a Mashgiach and the Springfield Vaad Hakashruth. Kosher meals are available Sunday to Thursday, for lunch and dinner and Friday for lunch. High holiday meals are also available for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Passover. Students must sign up in advance for these special meals.
What happens to my unused meals at the end of the semester?
Unused meals forfeit at the end of each semester. There are no refunds for unused meals. Current Meal Plan prices reflect the fact that not all students consume all meals available on their plan. Dining Dollars rollover from Fall to Spring Semester only.
How can you add additional dining dollars?
You are able to select additional dining dollars on SPIRE after add/drop in increments of $25.00 under the meal plan tab selection. You are not able to add dining dollars to any meal plan that does not initially include dining dollars as a benefit.
Which meal plan is best for my student?
This is one of the most commonly asked questions. This decision has a lot to do with an individual’s eating habits and lifestyle. We have found that for students who prefer to eat several smaller meals during the day, the Unlimited or Unlimited + meal plans are the best choice since your student will never run out of meals. They also offer the flexibility to stop into the Dining Commons as often as you like, even if only to have a small snack or a cup of coffee. The DC Basic Plan offers 224 meals per semester, averaging to 14 meals per week. The DC Basic Plan is good for students who go home often on weekends, or packs their own meals when on campus. If a student on the DC Basic Plan is running low on meals, upgrading to either Unlimited meal plan through SPIRE or the meal plan office is available at any time during the semester.
Can I upgrade my student’s meal plan anytime?
Yes, any meal plan can be upgraded on SPIRE at any time during the semester.
How often can my student eat if they are on the DC Basic Plan?
Students on the DC Basic Plan can eat as often or as seldom as preferred, however, the DC Basic Plan averages to about 14 Meals per week – 224 meals per semester.
How can I purchase, change or cancel a meal plan? Are refunds available?
Students may change or cancel (if eligible) their meal plan by 5pm on the last day of Add/Drop period. Changes are to be made on SPIRE. There are no meal plan downgrades or cancellations after Add/Drop period. Click here to order, change or cancel your meal plan! Students may upgrade their meal plan at any time on SPIRE during the semester and pay only the difference in price between the old and the new meal plan. Students withdrawing from the University will have their meal plan refunded as per the Registrar’s Office refund schedule. For more information, please call the Meal Plan Office at 413-545-5380.
Are there any daily or weekly limits to my student’s meal plan?
All of our meal plans (both residential and YCMP Off-Campus) are block plans and there are no daily or weekly limits.
What if my students runs out of meals?
If a student on the DC Basic Plan or YCMP Gold or YCMP Platinum runs out of meals at any time during the semester, students may upgrade their meal plan to Unlimited or Unlimited Plus on SPIRE at any time during the semester or they can purchase Additional Meals in Blocks of 10 on SPIRE. Please call the Meal Plan Office for more information at 413-545-5380. Students are advised to use their meal plans wisely as meals do not carry forward and there are no refunds for meals remaining at the end of the semester.
What are guest meals?
Guest Meals are invitations to bring someone to dine at the dining commons with you. Each residential meal plan offers 15 guest meals per plan. With the exception of Unlimited DC meal plan, this plan does not include guest meals or dining dollars. With YCMP or YCMP Off-Campus, you can bring a guest to eat as often as you’d like by using an additional YCMP meal swipe per guest.
How convenient is it to eat at the dining commons?
All dining commons are open continuously from breakfast through dinner, 7 days a week and Worcester and Berkshire offer late night options Sunday through Thursday. Breakfast on the Run and Grab ‘n Go lunch options are available during the week at all dining commons when you don’t have the time to sit and eat. During Exam Periods evening hours are extended.
Can my student use their meal plan at the football concession?
Students are welcome to use their YCMP, Meal Exchanges or Dining Dollars at the football concessions stands. The food operations open an hour before game time and run through the 3rd quarter.
What’s so great about the UMASS Amherst/SPE Certified partnership?
UMASS Amherst is proud to be the first SPE Certified University in the nation. The SPE Certified symbol indicates that a dish is not only nutritious and balanced but also has been properly sourced. And because SPE was born out of a Michelin-starred restaurant, SPE Certified dishes will be delicious and full of flavor.
What is permaculture?
Permaculture is a design system for creating ecological and edible landscapes, low-impact buildings, and sustainable communities and economies. It is based on thoughtful observation of the patterns and relationships found in nature, and provides a set of ethics and principles to help us transition our communities, campuses, and culture beyond sustainability and toward regeneration and resilience.
What is the UMass Permaculture Initiative?
A unique and cutting-edge sustainability program, UMass Permaculture provides empowering hands-on education and leadership training, community engagement, and fresh, local, organic produce to the UMass campus. Founded in 2010, the initiative builds and maintains highly productive, highly educational edible gardens right on campus. The gardens are designed using permaculture principles and are installed by students, staff, and volunteers.
How does UMass Dining define local?
In a three tiered priority system: 1) Within Massachusetts, 2) Within New England, 3) Within 250 miles
What local farmers and vendors do we source from?
UMass Dining sources from over 100 different local farmers and vendors. You can find an interactive map with all of our local sources on localumass.com
Where does all the compost go?
Our food waste gets composted and turned into rich, usable soil at Martin's Farm Compost and Mulch located in Greenfield, MA
How many permaculture gardens are there on campus?
There are 5 on-campus gardens: Franklin, Berkshire, Worcester, Hillside and Hampshire.
What is Gifts from Home?
Gifts from Home are care packages you can send directly to your student.
How are the students notified?
Students are notified via email and or phone call when their Gifts from Home care package is ready for pickup.
Where can my student pick up their Gifts from Home care package?
Students will be notified to pick up their gift at yum! Bakery located on the first floor Campus Center, in Blue Wall.
How will I know you received my Gifts from Home order I placed online?
You will receive a confirmation email from us immedietely when the order is placed.
How much time is needed to have a Gifts from Home order processed?
Two days excluding holidays and weekends is needed to process your Gifts from Home order.
What can I send through Gifts from Home?
There are an assortment of packages ranging from cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and exam survival kits. More details can be found on our website: https://umassdining.com/services/gifts-home/product-catalog
Are there options available if my student is gluten free?
Yes! Details about the contents of gluten free offerings can be found here: https://umassdining.com/services/gifts-home/product-catalog
Does a message get put with my package?
Yes! If you specify a custom message, this will be included when your student receives an email that their package is ready for pick up.
How long must I wait for bake shop orders?
The bake shop needs two business days meaning Monday through Friday to process your order.
What are the prices for these gifts?
Prices range from $13.95 to $25.00 depending on the contents of your order. More information can be found here: https://umassdining.com/services/gifts-home/product-catalog
What is food insecurity?
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines food insecurity as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life.
Where do I get support if I don’t have enough food?
There are a number of resources both on and off campus designed to support students who are struggling with food insecurity:
- UMASS Dining Services has a “No Student Goes Hungry Policy,” which enables students in need to request 3 days of meals through SPIRE. These meals are then deposited directly onto their U-Card. Find instructions for activating this supplemental meal support here.
- The UMASS Food Recovery Network delivers excess food from the dining halls to North Village and other locations 5 days a week during the school year.
- There are Value Meals at many retail locations, starting at $5.00. Additionally, graduate students can take advantage of the half-priced items one hour before close at the campus cafes— the half price brings many menu items down to $2.50 to $4.00.
- The UMASS Student Food Pantry offers free non-perishable food to all students, located in Bartlett 317c.
- Single Stop Resources is a one stop shop for students looking for a variety of supports, ranging from housing resources to emotional support to employment.
- The Amherst Survival Center, accessible by bus, offers a number of services including free meals, a food pantry, a free community store, and more.
- Set up an appointment with a Dean of Students Office Case Manager to discuss additional options and resources for support, including information about SNAP, WIC, and more.