Meal Plan FAQ


What is included in a meal plan?
If I live on campus, am I required to purchase a meal plan?
Why is the Unlimited Meal Plan automatically assigned to me as an incoming freshmen living on campus?
What is a 'meal swipe'?
Can I go to dinner more than once per evening on the Unlimited Meal Plan?
If I don't live on campus, can I still purchase a meal plan?
How do I choose the right meal plan?
Can I add more Munch Money if I run out of the amount that comes with my meal plan?
Can I change my meal plan if it's not working for me?
Can I use my meal plan to purchase a meal for a friend?
What is a Meal Trade and how do I use it?
If I am on the Unlimited Meal Plan and I use my one Meal Trade at lunch, how does that affect my meal plan for the rest of the day?
What happens to unused Munch Money at the end of the semester?
At the end of the semester, will unused meals carry over to the next semester?
Do I have to pay extra for a meal plan if I have special dietary needs?
Does a meal plan include kosher, halal, vegetarian, and vegan options?
If I run low on meals on my meal plan how do I purchase more meals?
I purchased a Munch Money Meal Plan, when will the bonus hit my account?


What is included in a meal plan?

Meal Plans are tax-free and include a combination of the following:

  • Meals in all-you-care-to-eat residential quad dining rooms
  • Meal Trades in Campus Center Food Court locations and late night take-out.
  • A declining balance account, called Munch Money, which allows you to purchase meals, food and beverages in dining rooms, the Campus Center, the Downtown Cafe, vending machines and Shop24.

If I live on campus, am I required to purchase a meal plan?

Yes, if you live in traditional residential quad housing, you are required to have a meal plan. Incoming freshman are automatically assigned the Unlimited Meal Plan and incoming upperclassmen (transfer students) are automatically assigned the 175 Meal Plan. Upperclassmen can change to the Unlimited or 120 Meal Plan once Residential Life has assigned housing and you have registered for classes. Changes can be made online or by going in person to the SUNYCard office in the Campus Center.

Returning residential upperclassmen will automatically be assigned the same meal plan they had the previous semester.

Please note that the 50, 30 and Munch Money Meal Plans are not available to traditional residential quad housing students, only commuters and University apartment students.

Why is the Unlimited Meal Plan automatically assigned to me as an incoming freshmen living on campus?

The Unlimited Meal Plan is a good choice for freshman students as it offers worry-free dining. No budgeting is required, which is nice for both you and your parents. The Unlimited Meal Plan guarantees that you will have meals from the first day of the semester to the last day. So rather than worrying about budgeting your meals, you can focus on your schoolwork and socializing with your new friends.

Since the Unlimited Meal Plan also includes one Meal Trade per day with access to meals at the Campus Center Food Court and to late night take out venues, you also get some added variety and flexibility in the plan.

What is a 'meal swipe'?

A 'meal swipe' is the way UAlbany Dining refers to the deduction of a meal or a Meal Trade from your chosen meal plan account balance. For example, let's say it is the first day of the semester and you are on the 175 Meal Plan. You decide to go to the Colonial Quad Dining Room for breakfast, Campus Center Food Court for lunch using a Meal Trade and the Indian Quad Dining Room for dinner. At the end of your first day at UAlbany, you will have 'swiped' your SUNYCard for three meals, leaving you with 172 meals for the rest of the semester.

If you were on the Unlimited Meal Plan in the above scenario, however, you would not have to budget your meals for the semester, you just swipe and enjoy!

Can I go to dinner more than once per evening on the Unlimited Meal Plan?

Yes, on the Unlimited Meal Plan, you can go to any of the five residential dining rooms (all-you-care-to-eat) as many times as you wish during the regular hours of operation (breakfast, lunch and dinner). There are no restrictions on the number of 'meal swipes' you use or which dining room you choose to go on any given day.

If I don't live on campus, can I still purchase a meal plan?

Yes, if you are a commuter or living in a University apartment, you can purchase any of the meal plan options.

How do I choose the right meal plan?

Think about your class year and schedule, and your eating, study and social habits. Some helpful questions you should ask yourself include:

  • Am I living in traditional residential quad housing (options: Unlimited, 175 and 120 Meal Plans depending on your class year)?
  • Are most of my classes during the day or in the evening?
  • How many meals do I typically eat on campus each day/week (or anticipate to eat)?
  • Do I prefer retail locations in the Campus Center Food Court (best options: 175, 120, 50, 30 or Munch Money Meal Plans) or the buffet-style, all-you-care-to-eat setting that provides a wide range of food/drink options with as many visits in a day as I like during the day (best option: Unlimited Meal Plan).
  • What are my snacking tendencies? Do/will I often need Munch Money for vending/Shop24 purchases or late night take-out (best options: 175 Meal Plan and 120 Meal Plan)?

Can I add more Munch Money if I run out of the amount that comes with my meal plan?

Yes, you can add Munch Money at any time by going online or by visiting the SUNYCard office in the Campus Center. You should remember to budget your Munch Money purchases and check your Munch Money balances throughout the semester (balances can be checked online, in the SUNYCard office, or with any cashier).

It's also important to remember that Munch Money only carries over from semester to semester during one full academic year (summer-spring). Any Munch Money not used by the end of the spring semester will be forfeited.

Can I change my meal plan if it's not working for me?

Yes, meal plan changes can be made through the 10th business day after the start of each semester.  Upperclassmen may change from the 175 Meal Plan to the Unlimited Meal Plan or 120 Meal Plan.  Commuter and University apartment students can change to any meal plan option.  You can change your meal plan online.

After the 10th business day after the start of the semester, meal plans are non-refundable and non-transferable due to New York State tax codes.

Can I use my meal plan to purchase a meal for a friend?

Due to New York State tax codes, meal plans cannot be used for guests, both meal swipes and Munch Money are a part of your meal plan and therefore cannot be used to purchase guest meals.  You may use Podium, credit card or cash for guest meals.

What is a Meal Trade and how do I use it?

A Meal Trade is a meal swipe at a participating campus retail venue, including late night venues. A Meal Trade typically includes an entrée item, side and/or dessert and a drink.  Each Meal Trade swipe counts as one meal on your meal plan account. The number of Meal Trades per day is unrestricted on all meal plans except for the Unlimited Meal Plan. The Unlimited Meal Plan has one Meal Trade per day, but students on this plan can continue to get unlimited access to the all-you-care-to-eat residential quad dining rooms throughout the day.

If I am on the Unlimited Meal Plan and I use my one Meal Trade at lunch, how does that affect my meal plan for the rest of the day?

It does not affect your plan in any way. For example, if you use your Meal Trade for a quick lunch in between classes because you are close to the Campus Center Food Court, you can still go for a late lunch at one of the all-you-care-to-eat quad dining rooms. On the Unlimited Meal Plan, you can eat at any of the five residential quad dining rooms whenever you want each day during the hours of operation.

What happens to unused Munch Money at the end of the semester?

Munch Money carries over for one academic year (summer to spring), as long as you remain enrolled; any remaining Munch Money at the end of the spring semester will be forfeited.

At the end of the semester, will unused meals carry over to the next semester?

No, unused meals do not carry over to the next semester.

Do I have to pay extra for a meal plan if I have special dietary needs?

No, UAlbany Dining makes every effort to accommodate students with special dietary requirements at no additional cost. All resident dining rooms have allergy free zones, called Simple Servings, which avoid the 7 major food allergens (i.e. milk, eggs, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts, soy, shellfish) and are completely gluten free. In addition, a full-time, on-site registered dietitian is available to provide the best dining options to safely and reasonably guide students in making their own food choices in the resident dining rooms and the retail venues.
Students with special dietary requirements should contact Nutritional Services at

Does a meal plan include kosher, halal, vegetarian, and vegan options?

Yes, UAlbany Dining works hard to accommodate food preferences based on religious observation and lifestyle. The all-you-care-to-eat resident dining rooms and the retail venues have several kosher, halal, vegetarian and vegan options. Food items are clearly labeled.
Students looking for kosher and halal meals should refer to the Hours of Operation to see the specific locations and operating times.
Kosher and halal meals are also available for special events, please contact UAlbany Dining at dining@albany.edu.

If I run low on meals on my meal plan how do I purchase more meals?

If you would like to add more meals to your meal plan you can do that at any time by visiting the SUNYCard office in the Campus Center.  Additional meals added to your existing meal plan cost $9.30 each.  You can check the number of meals remaining on your plan by going online.
Students on the Unlimited plan do not run out of meals and can swipe as often as they’d like in the all-you-care-to-eat dining rooms throughout the semester.

I purchased a Munch Money Meal Plan, when will the bonus hit my account?

If you have purchased the Munch Money Meal Plan at a value that includes bonus dollars, then you will see the bonus money hit your account after the last day of the change/drop meal plan period, which is usually 10 business days after the start of each semester (please allow up to three business days).