Meal Plan FAQ

Does my meal plan last for a semester or the full year?

Meal plans are purchased each semester.  In the spring semester, resident students will automatically be assigned the same meal plan they had in the fall but can change during the designated add/change period. University Apartment and commuter students are not auto-assigned the same meal plan, but must sign up for a meal plan every semester.

Why did UAlbany Dining change the block plans to the myFlex and myChoice Meal Plan model?

The myFlex and myChoice Meal Plan model is a completely new meal plan structure for the UAlbany campus! The model allows students more flexibility to eat where they want, when they want, without tying them down to a fixed number of ‘meal swipes’ at the resident (all-you-care-to-eat) dining rooms.

These plans were introduced for three main reasons:
    1.  We got feedback from many students on block meal plans (e.g., 175 Meal Plan) that they had left over ‘meal swipes’ at the end of each semester because they choose to eat more at retail venues with Munch Money then at the resident halls.  
    2.  We also wanted to give students unfettered access to all the new and exciting Campus Center retail dining locations (opening Fall 2017).
    3.  Lastly, since Dutch Dining Room is permanently closing (Summer 2017), we wanted to give Dutch residents (and all students), the most convenient and flexible meal plan options possible!

Does the myUnlimited Meal Plan also follow the myFlex and myChoice model?

The myUnlimited Meal Plan is a hybrid of the myFlex and myChoice Meal Plans since there is unlimited access to the all-you-care-to-eat residence dining rooms (i.e., unlimited meal swipes), but the plan also includes Discount Dollars. The myUnlimited students can use Discount Dollars at the same retail locations and activate the deep discounts.

Since the myUnlimited Meal Plan is the required meal plan for all resident freshmen, it’s a good way for them to get used to using Discount Dollars at retail, but also not have to worry too much about keeping track of spending since they can swipe anytime at the resident dining rooms without using Discount Dollars.

Any student can purchase a myUnlimited Meal Plan.

Why do I have to pay a base cost with the myFlex and myChoice Meal Plan model?

The base cost covers utilities, maintenance, repairs, rent, and the labor needed to support the food service program. These costs have always been components of the total meal plan prices; we are just being more transparent about the costs and breaking it down so you can see how your Discount Dollars are calculated. If you look at last year’s meal plans, you can see that the overall pricing is not much different -- It’s just now you have more flexibility to eat where you want and order whatever you want; no more fixed meal swipes at resident dining and no set meal ‘bundles’ at retail (Meal Trades) for food you may or may not want.

Once you pay the base cost, you get the remaining amount in Discount Dollars. With Discount Dollars, you get deep discounts which are activated at resident and retail dining locations (60%, 50% or 30% depending on the location) when you use your meal plan.

MyFlex and myUnlimited Meal Plan students can add more Discount Dollars (up to $500) with without paying anymore base cost. Since myChoice is a minor meal plan for nonresident students only and at a lower base rate, additional Discount Dollars cannot be purchased.

What are Discount Dollars and how do I use them?

Discount Dollars are part of your chosen plan and are set up as a declining balance account on your ID card. Discount Dollars are like Munch Money, but Munch Money does not activate the deep discounts at dining locations, and Munch Money does not come with a meal plan (Munch Money can be added separately, if desired).  
You use your Discount Dollars at all retail and resident dining locations for meals and beverages.* Each time you use your ID card at a dining location, your meal plan’s Discount Dollars will get activated and the venue-specific discount (60% discount at all resident dining rooms [myFlex and myChoice only], a 50% discount at campus/Sodexo retail brands and 30% discount at local/national retail brands) will be automatically calculated and the balance will be debited for your purchase. Your Discount Dollars’ remaining balance will appear on the register display and your receipt. Remember also your meal plan is tax free, so you will also be saving an additional 8% on all discounted sale prices.
Please note only Discount Dollars activate the 60%, 50% and 30% discounts, other campus funds will not (i.e., Munch Money, Podium, Campus Gold, F/S Dining Plan).
*If you have a myUnlimited Meal Plan, you have unlimited access to the resident dining rooms, so your Discount Dollars will not be debited at Indian, State, Colonial or Alumni dining rooms – you just swipe your ID card so the checker knows you have a myUnlimited plan.

What is the difference between Discount Dollars and Munch Money?

Discount Dollars come with your meal plan (myUnlimited, myFlex and myChoice). By having Discount Dollars, you ‘unlock’ the deep discounts at all the dining locations (a 60% discount at all resident dining rooms [myFlex and myChoice plans only], a 50% discount at campus/Sodexo retail brands and a 30% discount at local/national retail brands). Up to $500 more Discount Dollars can be purchased each semester with a myFlex or myUnlimited Meal Plan. No additional Discount Dollars can be purchased with a myChoice Meal Plan. Lastly, Discount Dollars cannot be purchased outside of purchasing a myFlex, myUnlimited or myChoice Meal Plan.

Munch Money is optional and does NOT come with your meal plan. You can add tax-free Munch Money to make purchases at 518 Market or in vending machines (i.e., locations that do not activate discounts with Discount Dollars). A Podium account can also be used for these purchases, but Podium does not provide tax-free spending. A meal plan is not required to purchase Munch Money. You can add as much Munch Money as you want per semester, but a minimum of $25 is necessary to start an account.

Both Discount Dollars and Munch Money carry over from fall to spring semester but expire at the end of the spring semester.

If I have Discount Dollars, why would I need Munch Money or Podium on my card?

The main reason to add a Munch Money account is to make tax-free food-related purchases at places that do not activate a discount, i.e., vending machines and 518 Market. A Podium account can also be used for these purchases, but Podium does not provide tax-free spending.

We strongly suggest you add either Munch Money or Podium for vending or 518 Market purchases. You do not want to waste your Discount Dollars on purchases that do not activate a discount. You can also pay with cash or credit at these locations.

How do I avoid using my Discount Dollars in vending and for pre-packaged goods?

You should never use your Discount Dollars for purchases that do not activate discounts, i.e., vending and prepacked goods. You need to go online (www.ualbanyid.com) and add either Munch Money or Podium dollars. Or, you can pay for these purchases with cash or a credit card.

When you use your ID card in the vending machines, the machines are programmed to look for Munch Money first, then Podium, and lastly Discount Dollars. When buying prepacked goods in retail (e.g., 518 Market), the cashiers are trained to ask you what tender you want to use so you can avoid using Discount Dollars on non-discounted items.

Why Discount Dollars and not Meal Trades?

Discount Dollars allow you to go to any location and eat what you want, when you want. Meal Trades were limited to only campus-branded retail venues, during limited hours of operation and only offered  specific meal bundles. Not only were students not able to go where they wanted/when they wanted and get what they wanted, there also was a lot of wasted food/beverages.

With Discount Dollars, you can go to any location and order what you’re in the mood for that day and receive either a 60%, 50% or 30% off the purchase price!

Can I convert Munch Money into Discount Dollars or vise versa?

No, Discount Dollars only come with a purchased meal plan and more can be added (up to $500) on the myFlex or myUnlimited plans. Munch Money is an optional tax-free account you can add to your ID card if you want to purchase items at 518 Market or in vending machines. Podium Dollars can also be used to purchase items in 518 Market and vending, but Podium is not tax free like Munch Money.

Since deep discounts are offered with the meal plan, have menu prices been increased to make up the difference?
No! The base cost covers the operating costs. All menu pricing is carefully reviewed on a yearly basis and compared to local, regional and national pricing.

Rest assured, no pricings will be adjusted to counteract the discounts! That’s what makes the myMeal Plans so cost-effective and fun to have!

Are there limits on when/where I can use my Discount Dollars?

No limits! You can use Discount Dollars at any dining location during its hours of operation and you can purchase whatever menu item(s) you want!

How do I get the discounts when I use my meal plan?

Once you purchase a meal plan, you just need to order your food/beverage in retail or swipe into an all-you-care-to-eat dining room, the venue-specific discount will automatically be calculated and the purchase price will be debited from your balance on your ID card (remember, myUnlimited students do not use Discount Dollars at all-you-care-to-eat dining rooms!).

Can I add Discount Dollars to my plan if I run out?

You can add up to $500 more in Discount Dollars per semester to your myUnlmited or myFlex plan. Additional Discount Dollars cannot be added to a myChoice plan.

If I add more Discount Dollars to my plan, do I have to pay more base cost?

No, the base cost is completely covered by the initial meal plan purchase price, this includes the myUnlimited Meal Plan price as well. When you purchase more Discount Dollars (up to $500 per semester), you will have the full amount of added Discount Dollars to spend.

Is there still a fixed amount of meal swipes on the myFlex and myChoice Meal Plans?

No, there are no more fixed amount of resident dining meal swipes with the myFlex and myChoice plans. If you have one of these plans and want to eat at a resident dining room, it will be 60% off the door price (you pay $4.80 as opposed to $12 and no tax!).

 The myUnlmited plan has unlimited access to the resident dining rooms. 

Who is eligible to purchase the myUnlimited Meal Plan?

All resident students, University apartment students, and commuter students can purchase the myUnlimited Meal Plan.
Freshmen living in resident halls are required to have a myUnlimited Meal Plan. The myUnlimited Meal Plan #1 will be automatically assigned to resident freshmen, but can be changed to the #2 starting June 1, 2017 thru September 11, 2017.

Who is eligible to purchase the myFlex Meal Plan?

Non-freshmen resident, University apartment, and commuter students can purchase a myFlex Meal Plan.
Non-freshmen living in resident halls are required to purchase a myFlex or myUnlimited Meal Plan but will automatically be assigned the myFlex Meal Plan #2. Resident non-freshmen can change this plan to any other myFlex Meal Plan option (#1 - #5) or to a myUnlimited Meal Plan option (#1 or #2) starting June 1, 2017 thru September 11, 2017.

Who is eligible to purchase the myChoice Meal Plan?

Only University apartment and commuter students can purchase a myChoice Meal Plan, and no additional Discount Dollars can be added to this meal plan. This is considered a minor meal plan. It is meant for students that do not live in resident halls and who have kitchens at home/apartment. It just gives them an opportunity to explore campus dining.

I’m a University apartment student, is there a reason I should choose the myFlex over the myChoice plan?

The myChoice plan is considered a minor, exploratory plan. It is less expensive than the myFlex Meal Plan, but additional Discount Dollars can’t be added and only one myChoice Meal Plan can be purchased per semester. If you plan to eat on campus 2-3 times a week, a myFlex Meal Plan may be a better choice.
I am a non-freshmen resident student trying to choose the right meal plan. Please tell me what are the main differences between the myUnlimited Plan and the myFlex plan?
The myUnlimited Meal Plan allows unlimited access to the all-you-care-to-eat dining rooms and a small amount of Discount Dollars (more can be added). If you plan to eat more frequently at resident dining rooms, this plan would be the right one for you. If you plan to eat mostly at retail locations, then a myFlex Meal Plan would be more suitable.

How do I purchase a meal plan?

1) Logging onto MyUAlbany
    2) Clicking on 'Campus Life' tab
    3) Clicking on 'Add/Change My Meal Plan'

Can I change my chosen meal plan?

Yes, you can change a meal plan starting June 1, 2017 thru September 11, 2017. Please note that all resident hall students are required to be on a meal plan.
Freshmen living in a resident hall are required to have a myUnlimited Meal Plan. The myUnlimited Meal Plan #1 will be automatically assigned to resident freshmen, but can be changed to the #2 starting June 1, 2017 thru September 11, 2017. 
Non-freshmen living in resident halls are required to purchase one of the two major meal plans (myFlex or myUnlimited), but will automatically be assigned the myFlex Meal Plan #2. Resident non-freshmen can change this plan to any other myFlex Meal Plan option (#1-#5) or to a myUnlimited Meal Plan option (#1 or #2)

Can my meal plan be cancelled or refunded?

Do my Discount Dollars carry over to the next semester?

Discount Dollars carry over from fall semester to spring semester but expire at the end of spring semester.

Do I lose my Discount Dollars from the fall semester if I don’t purchase a meal plan in the spring semester?

No, you get to keep all your Discount Dollars until the end of the spring semester, then they will expire if unused.

How do I purchase a Kosher Meal Plan if I’m on a myUnlimited Meal Plan?

Students on a myUnlimited Meal Plan can add a Kosher Meal Plan for $100 additional (allows for unlimited access to the Kosher Kitchen at Indian Quad). Students can elect to either pay an additional $100 or deduct $100 in Discount Dollars. Students on a myFlex or myChoice plan do not need a Kosher Meal Plan, they will just get 60% off the door rate.

How do I purchase a Kosher Meal Plan if I’m on a myFlex or myChoice Meal Plan?

Students on a myFlex Meal Plan or myChoice Meal Plan wishing to have a meal at the Kosher Kitchen at Indian Quad Dining Room simply swipe in at the checker station and request access, which will activate a 60% discount off the all-you-care-to-eat kosher door rate. Students with a MyFlex or myChoice plan do not purchase a separate Kosher Meal Plan like the myUnlimited Meal Plan students. MyFlex and myChoice students pay for kosher meals as desired.