DONíT DO IT! Or at least, donít sign up for a big one. A meal plan can be convenient when youíre feeling lazy and want to binge eat, but itís expensive and there is better food almost everywhere you look. If youíre set on a meal plan, go with the smallest one. You can only use your meal plan at John Jay Dining Hall or Barnardís dining hall, and upperclassmen rarely go to these places more than a couple times a week.
DO IT! Dining Dollars are accepted at ALL on-campus dining facilities (except Uris Deli in the business school), and can even be used at John Jay Dining Hall if you feel like an overpriced all-you-can-eat meal. Your Columbia ID card contains the balance of your Dining Dollar account, and can be swiped at the cash register to pay for your food. To add dining dollars to your account, you simply go online to Student Services Online (https://ssol.columbia.edu), sign in with your UNI, and select FlexAccount and Dining Dollars. You can then add any amount of Dining Dollars to your card, and it will be charged to your student account. Dining Dollars are tax-free.
Essentially Flex dollars are the same as Dining Dollars, except they can be used in vending machines, photocopiers, laundry machines, and at the bookstore as well! Keep in mind that Flex dollars are subject to tax, so if youíre paying for food anyway it is better to use Dining Dollars. Flex can be added to your card the same way as Dining Dollars (see above).
On-Campus Dining - Here are just a few of the most popular places for students to eat on campus...
John Jay Dining Hall: Itís pretty overpriced, but itís all-you-can-eat, so itís always pretty packed (first-years are required to enroll in a meal plan, so itís primarily first-years in John Jay).
Cafť 212: Attached to the lobby of Lerner, the student center. Has sandwiches, salads, soups, and dozens of baked goods. Also good for grab-and-go, ready-made stuff.
Cafť East: Bubble tea and smoothies, across from Cafť 212.
Ferris Booth: Very crowded at lunch time. Third floor of Lerner, so itís convenient for a quick meal. Pasta station, curry station, Chinese station (at dinner), fresh-made sushi, pizza, panini and bagel station, antipasto station, ready-made salads and sandwiches.
Tasti Delite: Enough said.
Uris Deli: In the business school; doesnít take Dining Dollars! Good for a quick sandwich, salad, or soup. Also has a nice patio for sunny days.
Carleton Deli: Way at the back of campus in Mudd. Very crowded at noon because itís so convenient to the engineering students. Serves a hot buffet (menu varies by day), salad bar, as well as made-to-order sandwiches.
JJ's Place: This is a very popular with students late at night, either as a break from studying, or as a good way to finish off a night out. JJ's is open until 3 or 4 AM every night (except Friday and Saturday), and serves fried chicken, burgers, mozzarella sticks, etc.