Here is a list of Frequently Asked Questions concerning dining on campus. If you don't find the answer to your question, please email us at cua-diningservices@cua.edu and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.

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Meal Plans

Why is my Cardinal Card so important?

Think of your Cardinal Card as your access to the University.  Not only will it gain you access to residence halls and other buildings, but it’s also loaded with 3 “accounts” crucial to dining on campus, in addition to making book store purchases, copies in the library, and showing off your ID picture.  These 3 accounts are Meal Allowance, Dining Dollars, and Cardinal Cash.

 Meal Allowance: When you purchase a meal plan, your meals get loaded into this account.  Each time you visit our residential dining hall, the Student Restaurant, or have a meal exchange at one of our retail locations a meal will be deducted from this account.

*There are differences between the Anytime meals and Block meals which we’ll explain later.

 Dining Dollars (DDs): DDs can be used at all on campus dining locations. Your Cardinal Card works just like a debit card. Simply swipe your card and the balance is automatically deducted from your account. DDs are a dollar for dollar value, so if you purchase a bottled soda for $1.89, that amount will be deducted from your account.

 Cardinal Cash: Cardinal Cash is a University-run declining balance account.  You can add funds to this account in order to buy books, make copies, or make other purchases, both on- and off-campus.  Cardinal Cash is a dollar for dollar value. CUA Dining also accepts Cardinal Cash at all locations.

 Because there is so much information on your Cardinal Card, it is important to keep it with you at all times. You are not allowed to lend your card to a friend to use or ask them to purchase a meal or snacks for you. If you lose your Cardinal Card, please visit the Department of Public Safety immediately so it can be deactivated and replaced. Please call 202.319.5111 if you have any questions.

How does the meal plan work?

Meal plans give students a combination of meals and DDs.  Anytime meals may be redeemed in the Student Restaurant residential dining hall, located on the 3rd floor of the Pryzbyla Center. Block meals may be redeemed in the Student Restaurant as well as in the Pryz Food Court, P.O.D. Market and Law School Café using meal exchange. When a student swipes their Cardinal Card at one of the locations listed, one meal is deducted. There is no limit on the Anytime Meal Plans, but meal usage is tracked. DDs can be spent at any on campus dining location just like cash.

Which meal plans can I choose from?

Freshmen and Sophomore students living on campus must choose from one of the following meal plans:

Mandatory Meal Plans

Anytime Platinum - $2,901 / semester

-Unlimited meals / semester

-300 Dining Dollars / semester

-8 guest meals / semester

Anytime Gold - $2,801 / semester

-Unlimited meals / semester

-200 Dining Dollars / semester

-4 guest meals / semester

Anytime Silver - $2,704 / semester

-Unlimited meals / semester

-200 Dining Dollars / semester

-2 guest meals / semester

 Upperclassmen, commuter students, part-time students and law school or graduate students may choose from any of the Mandatory Meal Plans listed above or one of the following:

Voluntary Meal Plans

Block 175 - $2,442 / semester

-175 meals / semester

-500 Dining Dollars / semester

Block 100 - $1,543 / semester

-100 meals / semester

-400 Dining Dollars / semester

Block 75 - $1,065 / semester

-75 meals / semester

-200 Dining Dollars / semester

Block 50 - $782 / semester

-50 meals / semester

-200 Dining Dollars / semester 

Block 25 - $494 / semester

-25 meals / semester

-200 Dining Dollars / semester

How do I sign up for a meal plan?

If you are a new student living on campus, you select your meal plan when you fill out your residential housing packet. If you fail to select a meal plan as a new student, by default you will be placed on the Anytime Silver plan. Upperclassmen, commuter students, part-time students and law school or graduate students may sign up by visiting the CUA Dining office, located on the first floor of the Pryzbyla Student Center or by going to cardinalstation.cua.edu

If you are a returning student, you will automatically be signed up for the same meal plan you were on during the previous semester unless you have requested a change.

How do I choose the right plan?

Choosing the “right” meal plan is truly an individual process. Factors to consider when choosing a meal plan include class and work schedules, eating preferences, whether or not you go home on the weekends, etc.


There are a total of 28 meal periods throughout the week – breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late night Monday through Sunday. However, with the Anytime plans, you have an unlimited amount of meal periods! That’s a lot of opportunities to grab something to eat.


For example, if you are a first year student living on campus and you have to have your Starbucks coffee every day, the Anytime Gold or Platinum might work best since it comes with extra dining dollars. Commuter students who have some classes or are interning during a semester would probably choose the Block 100 or 75 depending on how much time they are actually spending off campus.

What’s the difference between Anytime Meal Plans and Block Meal Plans?

Anytime Meal Plans provide students with unlimited meals throughout the semester. You may enter the Student Restaurant as many times as you’d like for breakfast, lunch, dinner or late night.  There is no balance for the amount of meals, however we can keep track of how many meals you’ve used throughout the semester.


Block Meal Plans give students all their meals for the semester and it is up to the student to budget accordingly.  For example, if a student is on the Block 175 plan, they may choose to eat 15 meals one week, 7 meals the next and no meals the following week.  With the block plans, they have the freedom to use their meals as they’d like.  However, once they reach their 175 meals, the student will have no meals remaining for the semester.

How many meals does the block plan average out to per week?

In most cases, there are 15 weeks during the fall semester and 16 weeks during the spring semester. To calculate how many meals, on average, each block plan has per week, simply divide the number of meals on the plan, by the number of weeks in that semester.

For example: Block 175 = 11 meals / week in the fall semester

What is the Meal Exchange and how does it work?

Meal Exchange allows students to eat at our retail dining locations without spending all of their DDs, Cardinal Cash, or cash. At the Pryz Food Court, P.O.D. Market and Law School Café there are certain items that you may choose from which constitute a “meal”. When you go to pay a meal will be deducted from your meal account. If, for example, you visit Grille Works and order a cheeseburger with fries and a medium fountain beverage you will be charged a meal rather than DDs or Cardinal Cash. If you also wanted a bottled beverage for later, you would be charged DDs, Cardinal Cash, or cash for those extra items you selected.


For a complete list of meal exchanges, please visit www.cua.campusdish.com.

What is the most commonly selected meal plan?

The Anytime Silver or Block 100 are our most popular plans. It gives students the right balance between meals and DDs depending on your campus status.

I live in the dorms. Do I have to have a meal plan?

Yes and no.  As part of your Residence Hall & Dining Services Agreement you must be on a Mandatory Meal Plan if you are a Freshmen or Sophomore living on campus. If you are an upperclassmen residing on campus, a meal plan is not required, but we encourage you to have some sort of plan if you’re living on campus. It just makes life simpler.

I ran out of Dining Dollars! Can I add more?

Of course! DDs can be added by stopping by the CUA Dining office, located on the first floor of the Pryzbyla Student Center, and filling out an Add Dining Dollars form. You may also add them online by going to cardinalcard.cua.edu 

and clicking on the Managing My Card link.
You can add as many DDs as you want, but keep in mind that they will only carry over to the spring semester if you are on a meal plan and will not carry over at the end of the academic year. Add wisely. The amount added will automatically appear on your student account during the next billing cycle.

I picked the wrong plan! Can I change it?

Of course!  You have until the Friday of the first week of classes to downgrade or cancel your meal plan.  Simply stop by the CUA Dining office located on the first floor of the Pryzbyla Student Center, and fill out a form or email cua-diningservices@cua.edu and include your name, ID number and which plan you would like to change to. Meal plans may also be changed online by going to cardinalstation.cua.edu Meal plans may not be changed over the phone, as we need to have your selection in writing! You can upgrade your meal plan at any time throughout the semester.

I have an allergy or special dietary need. Will I be able to eat on campus?

Absolutely! We try and make it as accommodating as possible for you to find healthy and delicious options at every meal.  For those with allergies or special dietary needs, we ask that you meet with our Executive Chef and management team to go over what we offer.  We will do our best to help identify selections that meet your needs, as well as make additional accommodations if necessary. If you ever see something you are unsure about or do not know what you can have, simply ask a manager and we can provide you with something that will both satisfy your hunger and keep you safe.

What’s the difference between Dining Dollars and Cardinal Cash?

Cardinal Cash can be used at any on-campus dining location, at the bookstore, campus copy machines, and at several off-campus locations visit cardinalcard.cua.edu and click on the Locations For Using My Card link for a complete list of locations.  Dining Dollars can only be used for on-campus dining locations.

Do Dining Dollars carry over from semester to semester?

Yes and no. Any unused DDs will carry over from the fall to the spring semester provided you are on a meal plan in the spring. If you are not on a meal plan in the spring unused DDs will not carry over and are non-refundable. DDs never carry over from the spring to the fall semester even if you are on a meal plan.

Do meals carry over from semester to semester?

The simple answer is no. Meals will never carry over from semester to semester regardless of which plan you are on. Any unused meals you have at the end of the semester will be lost.

How do I check the balance of Dining Dollars and meals left on my card?

You can simply ask the cashier when you are at the register. If you would like a printout of your meal plan usage to see if you are managing your plan correctly, go to the CUA Dining office, located on the first floor of the Pryzbyla Student Center.

How do I pay for my meal plan?

Meal plans are automatically added to your University student account. Payments cannot be accepted online or in the CUA Dining office at the point of purchase.

I’m a commuter. Which meal plans can I choose from?

Commuters have the option of choosing any meal plan they’d like.  Which plan is the right one is up to you. Based on your class schedule and how much time you spend on campus between classes or in the library are big factors when choosing which plan is right for you. If you are unsure of your dining habits, try bringing cash for the first week or two and see how many times you purchase food on campus.

I am a Law School student and most of my classes are in the Columbus School of Law. Which meal plan is right for me?

As a student, you are able to select from any of our meal plans. However, it is important to note that there is not an all-you-care-to-enjoy dining hall at the Columbus School of Law.  If you have a tight schedule, it may be unrealistic to think you’ll have time to go back to the Student Restaurant to eat and make it back before your next class. Therefore, most Law School students choose from one of the Block Meal Plans.


The Law School Café, located on the first floor, offers a variety of foods including soup, salad bar, a hot entrée, grill, pizza, and made-to-order deli.  Meal Exchange options are available here and can be found online www.cua.campusdish.com

The Block 75 plan is most popular among Law School students. It offers 75 meals per semester and 200 DDs. You can use this plan at any of our dining locations on campus.

I live in the apartments on/off campus. Should I consider this when choosing a meal plan?

Absolutely! The on/off campus apartments come with kitchens and if you are someone who loves to cook, a meal plan with fewer meals and more DDs might be a good choice. You can eat on campus during the day and purchase your groceries in the P.O.D. Market to make your dinner at night. Something to consider is whether you are going to have enough time and motivation to cook as many meals as you anticipate.

Can I use my meal plan to pay for guests?

Of course! The Mandatory Meal Plans each come with a certain amount of guest meals per semester to be used on anyone you’d like, including yourself. If you use all of your guest meals before the end of the semester, you can use your DDs, Cardinal Cash or cash to pay for any additional guests. The Voluntary Meal Plans do not come with guest meals, but you may use your block meals, DDs, Cardinal Cash or cash to pay for a guest.

Where can I use my Cardinal Cash?

DDs are only accepted at University Dining Service locations whereas Cardinal Cash can be used at any on-campus dining location, some off campus locations, or at other venues on campus not limited to food.  Both accounts have their benefits, but DDs guarantee you have money put aside for food, ensuring that you never go hungry. Visit cardinalcard.cua.edu and click on the Locations for Using My Card link for a complete list of locations where Cardinal Cash can be used.

Will there always be somewhere to eat on campus, day or night?

Our hours of operation are based on your needs and demands.  That being said, we’ve crafted a convenient dining schedule to make sure that when you’re hungry, you have options available!

Hours of Operation

Student Restaurant     Mon-Thurs: 7:30am-midnight; Fri: 7:30am-2am; Sat: 8:30am-2am & Sun: 8:30am-midnight

Pryz Food Court         Mon-Fri: 11am-8pm; Sat-Sun: Closed

P.O.D. Market            Mon-Fri: 8am-midnight; Sat-Sun: 10am-midnight

Starbucks                    Mon-Fri: 7:30am-11pm; Sat-Sun: 9am-11pm

Law School Café        Mon-Thurs: 11:30am-7pm; Fri: 11:30am-2pm; Sat-Sun: Closed


Where can I find more info on nutrition?

For more on Nutritional Information and Healthy for Life initiatives, visit our Eat Well section.

How do I use the Menu?

We have tools designed to help your health. Use the Comparison Box to quickly relate the nutritional information of two or more items. The Nutritional Calculator can populate the nutritional value of your meal. Use our quick nutritional icons to identify food with special preparation or contents at a glance.

Why should I select favorite locations?

Selecting a location will help us customize your experience on the CampusDish site.

Why are my products split into separate orders and why does this happen?

Two or more of the items in your cart are restricted by product type or payment method. In order to process the transaction, the items in your cart must be processed separately.