Dining Plan Policy

The following points are outlined to help Dining Plan holders understand the framework of service provided by Columbia Dining.

Dining Plan Requirements 
  • First-Year Columbia students are required to have a dining plan.  

  • Plans are optional for upperclass students.

Contract Terms 
  • Dining Plan enrollment is a contract for one academic year.  

  • Once a student enrolls in a plan, they may elect to change their plan option during the change period at the beginning of each semester. 

  • Plans cannot be canceled. 

  • Plans are one per individually registered Columbia student and cannot be shared. 

Service Dates  

Fall Semester:

  • First-Year dining plan service starts the Wednesday of new student orientation. 

  • Upperclass dining plan service starts the day of official Housing check-in. 

  • There is service on an adjusted scale during fall break, Thanksgiving break, and Spring break. 

  • Dining is closed Thanksgiving Day and during Winter break. 

Spring Semester:

  • All plans start on the first day of classes in the Spring semester. 

  • On an adjusted scale, dining is available during Spring break. 

  • All Dining Plan service ends the last day of final exams/Friday before Commencement. 

  • Dining is closed during the Summer period. 

Academic Year 2022-23: 

Check the Dining calendar for other key dates and events throughout the academic year.

  • First-Year Dining Plans start Wednesday, August 31, 2022 

  • Upperclass plans begin Friday, September 2, 2022 

  • Service closes for Winter Break on December 23, 2022 

  • First day Spring semester service begins January 17, 2023 

  • All Dining Plan service ends Friday, May 12, 2023

AY 2023-2024

  • The Dining Plan service calendar will be extended for AY 2023-24. Fall service will operate 9/1-12/30. Spring service will operate 1/2 - 5/14.
  • One swipe is one meal. If you want to take a second meal to go, please use another swipe or a guest swipe. 

  • Guest swipes can be used by the plan holder: 

    • to swipe in someone who is not a Dining Plan holder 

    • for themself if they want a second meal or run out of meal swipes that week

Meal Expiration  
  • First-Year meals expire at the end of each week; 

  • Upperclass, GS, and graduate meals in Plan A / Weekly meals expire each week. 

  • Meals in term-based plans expire at the end of the academic year. This includes Plan A / Term, Plan A /Meals, Plan B / Dining Dollars, Plan B / Flex, Plan C, Plan C Plus, and Plan D.

    • Unused meals from the Fall Term will rollover to Spring Term. However, these meals will not be viewable in SSOL or available for use until all meal swipes for Spring Term have been used.

  • Plan EZ1, 2, & 3 meals expire each week. 

  • Meals do not roll over year to year. 

  • Dining Dollars and Flex accounts roll over from year to year and will expire the day after graduation. 

  • The residential dining halls accept meal swipe, Dining Dollars, Flex, and Credit Card. Cash is not accepted. 

  • If using a form other than meal swipe, please tell the cashier before they tap your card. 

  • Retail units accept Cash, Dining Dollars, Flex, and Credit Card. Swipes cannot be used in retail locations.

Emergency Meal Fund 
  • No questions asked meals made available to Columbia College, Columbia Engineering and General Studies students 

  • Students are eligible for six tickets per semester 

  • Must request ticket from school:

    • CC and SEAS students who need tickets should contact [email protected] to meet with a staff member and receive assistance. Tickets will be distributed during business hours in 601 Lerner.

    • GS students who need tickets should go to 403 Lewisohn Hall and may  contact [email protected] for questions.

  • EMF tickets may not be used for special events

NYC Department of Health Certified Organization 
  • Columbia Dining is a certified food service operator with the NYC Department of Health and participates in regular inspections. This also means Dining must follow best practices and procedures that guide how dining service operates.

To-go Service 
  • All Columbia Dining Plan holders are eligible for the reusable to-go container program

  • How it works: 

    • First Year students are given a token a Check-In. 

    • Continuing students can pick up a new token the first week of dining service at the beginning of each semester.  

    • After that period, it will cost $5 to join the program (payable by Dining Dollars, Flex, or credit card). 

    • Students redeem a token for a container at the register at any residential dining hall location. Students can turn in a used container for a clean one or a token to use at another time.

    • To-go containers are only accepted at our residential dining plan locations: John Jay, JJ's Place, Ferris Booth, and Faculty House. To-go containers cannot be used at Chef Mike's Sub Shop or retail units. 

    • Containers should not be thrown out or recycled. They must be returned to any residential dining hall for cleaning. 

    • There is a 50 cent charge for disposable to-go containers provided by Columbia Dining.

Personal Bags, Bottles, Containers and Other Items 
  • Personal beverage bottles, to-go containers or tupperware, and tote or shopping bags may not be used in the dining halls.

  • The NYC Department of Health regulates resuable containers permitted in certified operations. One of the requirements outlined is that Dining wash the reusable containers on premise at a specified temperature.  

Surplus Food 
  • In accordance with NYC Department of Health guidelines for Food Safety and Community Sanitation, Columbia Dining cannot donate surplus food that has been served during mealtimes.

Allergies and Special Diets 
  • Students with significant food allergies are encouraged to register with the Columbia Dining Registered Dietitian. 

  • Only students on the Kosher Dining Plan have access to Kosher areas at either Columbia or Barnard Dining. 


Residents on Dining Plans participate in all-you-care-to-eat plans at dining service locations in John Jay Dining Hall, JJ's Place, Ferris Booth Commons, Chef Mike's Sub Shop and Faculty House. When on the go, residents are welcome to utilize take-out containers provided by Columbia Dining. Students may opt to eat-in or get a take-out container, but not both. Stuffing personal bags/backpacks, filling outside Tupperware, or removing an excessive amount of food is considered theft and will be documented and referred to the Dean's Office of the school that the student attends. See more in the Guide to Living.

Columbia Dining and Barnard Dining are separate, but reciprocal programs. The exchange details are agreed upon by the schools at the start of every academic year, including when and where students may use reciprocal service. Basic parameters are as follows:

  • Columbia and Barnard students on a Dining Plan can use meals at either school. 

  • At Columbia, Barnard meal plan holders can use exchange meals at John Jay Dining Hall, Ferris Booth Commons, JJ's Place, Chef Mike's Sub Shop, Chef Don's Pizza Pi and Faculty House.  

    • Barnard points are limited to Barnard Dining locations.

  • At Barnard, Columbia students can dine at Hewitt, the Diana and Liz’s Place.

    • Dining Dollars can also be used at Barnard retail and residential locations.

Barnard Dining Plan holders should contact the program directly with questions or for additional information.