Question: What is OCMP?

Answer: OCMP or Off Campus Meal Plan is an independent entrepreneur providing, for published fees, selectable numbers of meals at off campus restaurants. OCMP is in no way affiliated with Rutgers University, RU Dining Services or RU Express and the RUconnection card. [TOP]

Question: Can RU Dining Services meal plans be used off-campus?

Answer: The meal plans are only accepted at the 4 campus dining halls, however, starting Fall 2006, RU Express, an optional debit service, will be accepted at many off-campus locations. The RU Express Account is currently accepted at the University Bookstores, Student Centers, All Dining Halls (Brower Commons, Busch, Camden, Neilson and Tillett), on-campus stores, The Rutgers Club, Vending Machines, DOTS, On-Campus Laundry Facilities, All Health Center Pharmacies, Livingston Gym Snack Bar, the Student Activity Center, Rutgers Football Stadium, Louis Brown Athletic Center, Rutgers Golf Course...and at many locations off-campus as well. See a full list of the off-campus locations. For information, or to open a RU Express account go to: RU Express Online. [TOP]


Question: What happened to Cooper Dining Hall and will there be another Intermezzo?

Answer: Unfortunately the fiscal situation at RU for the fall and spring of 2006/2007 has caused Dining to close Cooper. Additionally this impacts Intermezzo since there is not an appropriate alternative location. We expect the additional students using Neilson to fill the entire space. Hopefully, moving forward, conditions will change and we can again open Cooper and reestablish the popular evening meal, Intermezzo. [TOP]

Question: I have a 105 meal plan. I have used up my meals, but never brought a guest with me. Can I use my 10 guest meals once my 105 are gone?

Answer: A 105 meal plan includes a TOTAL of 105 meals. You may elect to use up to 10 of these meals for guests that you bring with you to the dining hall. Your meal plan is 105. Whether you use them all for yourself, or 95 for you, and 10 for guests throughout the semester is entirely up to you. [TOP]

Question: I bought the 150 meal plan. It is late November, and I am almost out of meals. Is there anything I can do to avoid starvation during my upcoming finals?

Answer: If you are about to run out of meals, you do have options to increase your meal plan. You may "purchase up" to the next higher plan by paying the difference, or you may purchase additional blocks of 5 meals for $35. You must go to the RU Express Office in Records Hall to make arrangements to increase your meal plan. [TOP]

Question: I've run out of guest meals. Can you just slash my card two times so my friend can come in with me?

Answer: Sorry, we cannot do that. Once you have used up your 10 guest meals, your only option to bring a guest in with you is to pay cash or RU Express for that guest. [TOP]

Question: I have meals left on my meal plan. Will they roll over to next semester?

Answer: No, meals are purchased in blocks to be used in a semester. Meal Plans end on the last day of final exams in December and in May. The meal plan you select for the Fall semester is automatically selected and billed for the Spring semester. At the New Brunswick / Piscataway campuses ONLY there is a 2 week period at the beginning of each semester when reductions can be made. (During these 2 weeks, cancellations may also be made by non-resident students providing the account has not been used.) [TOP]

Question: Why can't I get a refund for my unused meals?

Answer: Dining Services does not issue refunds, because meal plans are pre-discounted. All the plans are priced based upon the average number of meals students use within each plan; not the face amount or number of meals listed. The dollar price charged via your term bill reflects this "pre-discounting". When you look at the actual purchase price of any of the plans, particularly those for on-campus, resident students, and you compare those prices, there is very little difference. For example, for the 45 meal difference between the 255 and 210 a student would pay only $1.78 per meal. Posted prices in each dining hall are far greater at $7, $10, and $15. So how is this possible? This difference is the result of the "pre-discounting"; the actual realization that students with a 255 really don't use many more meals on average per semester than students with a 210 meal plan.
The 105 at $1405 against the 285 at $1815 also shows this curious disparity since the 2.7 times as many meals is not 2.7 times as expensive.
If a student where charged for all the face value meals, instead of this average of used meals, the 285 would be over $3,000 a semester, the 210 over $2,200 a semester and so on. The averaging, or use of a "missed meal factor" for pricing, is common at many colleges and universities with plans similar to ours here at RU. It provides the most economical way for the total of students to dine. [TOP]

Question: Why is it prohibited for a student to remove food from the dining hall. I thought our meal plan included "all you can eat".

Answer: Even in a buffet/all-you-can-eat restaurant patrons are not allowed to bring Tupperware or any packaging, dine, and fill these take-out items and leave. There is always a fixed price for the buffet and individuals must consume on premises. Students who wish to dine in an alternative location make that choice by selecting take-out. [TOP]

Question: I like take-out but why can't I help myself to all I care to eat?

Answer: The costs of running take-out are higher than in the "all you care to eat" main dining rooms. Therefore, portions are limited. If you have a hearty appetite, you are permitted to slash a second meal for an extra portion [TOP]

Question: When I break it down, my meal plan is costing me about $8 per meal. Why do you charge more than Sizzler or Hometown Buffet?

Answer: Typically, dining operations in the private sector pay their workforce very close to the minimum wage, other than the skilled labor of management and chefs. At RU an entry level, unskilled laborer makes over $11.20/hour plus 25% benefits. This is more than double what unskilled persons make in the private sector. University costs are typically higher in general than the private sector. Dining Services is a pure auxiliary responsible for all its overhead and expenses. We pay for all the food purchased, labor used, fringe benefits for that labor, lights, heat, gas for cooking, steam for cooking, air conditioning, supplies of china, silver, glasses, take out goods, management and administrative costs, pest control, recyclable and garbage pickup, removal of edible waste, insurance, daily repair and replacement costs, and put something away to do renovations at no additional costs to students for debt service.

Question: Is there anything students can do to try and control the rising cost of meals?

Answer: Yes. Try to reduce wastes of all kinds. Everything left on your tray is waste. Uneaten food is the most costly. Only take what you know you can eat. You can always go back for more food, but you can not put uneaten food back. This goes for disposables as well. Everything you use has a price. The obvious cost is what you pay for a meal plan. The not so obvious costs are the energy consumed in planting, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, processing, packaging, and shipping your food and disposables to campus. Be a responsible consumer, and an honest one. Food taken from a dining hall is theft, and everyone has to pay the price for what is stolen. [TOP]

Question : I've seen signs at the dining hall asking me to donate a guest meal for a charitable cause. What's that all about?

Answer: The "meal swipe" program for charity is an historical opportunity for dining students to "give up" a meal to benefit a charitable organization. Since the block plans, the "food cost" value of a "guest meal" is used, since there is no ability, like with the "ancient" meal plans, to deny a student entry during any specific meal period. The plate cost portion of their meal, or $2.50, is accumulated through the swipe process, and then Dining has a check cut and sent to the selected charitable organization. The program is specific for "outside" legitimate, charitable organizations. It is not intended to support any University or student group, and is allowed once an academic year for selection by each college's Governing Association. [TOP]

Question: My organization wants to have a social event. Most of us have meal plans. Is it possible to have you cater the event for us?

Answer: There are 2 ways we can assist you with such social events. If you are interested in having a full catered event, you should contact our catering department. They have a variety of menus you can choose from. Once you arrange your event, students who have meal plans, and will be attending, can sign away one of their guest meals to offset the full catered price of the event.
Your other option is to have a meal exchange. The dining hall will allow you a sign up period, where each student who will attend comes into the dining hall and signs away one guest meal. The sign up ends 5 business days before the event. On the date of the event, you go to the dining hall and pick up bulk food for each person who signed away a valid guest meal. There is a minimum of 25 people for meal exchanges. The most popular menus are barbecues (We provide burgers, hot dog, veggie burgers and accompaniments. You cook the food yourself on your own grill.)and Hoagie Parties. (We provide the fixings, and you create your own hoagies.) The courtesy desk can assist you with these basic meal exchanges. [TOP]

Question: What happens to the leftover food?

Answer: Any food that has been on the service line, and exposed to customers is not re-used. Leftovers that can be reused are chilled quickly, and refrigerated overnight. These items will be reheated the next day, and added to the items already on the menu. [TOP]

Question: Do you throw away the food that cannot be reheated?

Answer: All food waste: waste on trays as well as foods that have been in service and cannot be served again are picked up by a farmer, and incorporated into feed for pigs. [TOP]


Question: How can I find out the calories and fat content of the foods served in the dining halls?

Answer: Go to the Dining Services website (food.rutgers.edu) and click on Weekly Menus and Interactive Nutritive Analysis. The nutrition information on all foods served in the dining halls is posted here. There are kiosks available in the dining hall for your convenience in looking up specific information. [TOP]

Question: Do you make any accommodations for students with food allergies or special dietary requirements?

Answer: Dining Services will work with students who have special dietary needs to ensure a medically appropriate and nutritionally sound diet. Complete this form and return it to the RU Express / Board Plan Office, Room 102 Records Hall to initiate a professional review of your nutritional and dietary concerns. [TOP]

Question: How come the dining halls don't serve fresh alfalfa and bean sprouts?

Answer: For your safety, the dining halls serve canned bean sprouts. A few years ago, the USFDA issued consumer advisories related to eating alfalfa and clove sprouts. Healthy individuals can get salmonella poisoning from eating fresh sprouts. All products served in the dining halls have to pass stringent microbiological food sample testing before they are served to students. [TOP]

Question: Why are the same foods served in the dining halls every week?

Answer: The dining halls work on a 4-week cycle menu, meaning that the same food combinations are only served once every four weeks. Some favorites such as chicken nuggets, french fries, pasta, hamburgers, pizza, etc may be seen more frequently due to the high demand for these items. [TOP]

Question: Is it true that you serve low quality products to save money?

Answer: Another myth. While we will concede that some quality issues exist due to volume cooking and holding times, all items purchased and prepared are of the highest quality available to us. Take a tour of one of our storerooms and you will see many common brand name labels, such as Hellman's, Kraft, Hersheys, Jell-O and many more. [TOP]

Question: I heard that Dining Services puts laxatives in the food because when cooking for many students, the food becomes contaminated. The laxatives cause the food to move through the body quickly so the contaminated food is not absorbed. Is this true because every time I eat in the dining halls, I have diarrhea afterwards?

Answer: Dining Services does not add laxatives to the food nor is the food contaminated. Dining Services does cook for many students, however, they are held to rigid standards for food safety. Dining Services employs a full time sanitarian to ensure that the dining halls uphold all state and federal food safety regulations. All managers and chefs in the Division of Dining Services are Serve Safe Certified. All dining halls are inspected on a weekly basis and employ a random sample testing procedure. This means that the dining halls do not know when the testing will occur or what items will be tested. The reason that you may be experiencing diarrhea can be a result of the foods you choose to eat when at the dining halls. Since the dining halls offer a vast array of items, using various food preparation methods, students eat many types of foods at one meal. Sometimes our GI tract can not handle many different foods (particularly high fat items) at one time. Overeating also disrupts our GI system. Since the dining halls offer buffet type service, there is no portion control and this can lead to overeating. High fat diets and overeating can lead to diarrhea. When eating in the dining halls, try choosing grilled or baked entrees, limiting portions and including fruit as a dessert instead of a high fat cake or pie. Your stomach will thank you for the change! [TOP]

Question: My "friend" saw a delivery truck at your loading dock last week, and there were boxes marked "GRADE D Beef". Is it really safe to eat Grade D beef?

Answer: The USDA Beef Grading system does not even include such letter grading. We purchase and serve Choice and Prime beef, the same type you will find in restaurants everywhere. [TOP]

Question: I go to Brower everyday and I can't find some of my favorite foods. Can you please tell me if you can carry: lactaid milk, low fat cottage cheese, dried fruit, chocolate milk, soy milk, yogurt, and hot cereal everyday. Also, do you use water or milk in the hot cereals?

Answer: All the foods you mentioned are available everyday at Brower. The grilled chicken is available sliced at the salad bar, lactaid milk is also there closer to the coffee bar, low fat cottage cheese is on the breakfast line and at the salad bar, chocolate milk can be made using the chocolate syrup in the squeeze bottle, Silksoy is in two of the milk machines, one near line 2 and another near line 3. Plain lowfat yogurt is on the condiment counter and there is one type of hot cereal offered everyday. Hot cereals are made with water instead of milk to accommodate all diets, including vegans and those with lactose intolerance. Next time you are in the dining halls and can't find something, ask a manager or supervisor as we may have exactly what you are looking for. [TOP]

If you have a question that hasn't been answered here, please send it to: emeal@rci.rutgers.edu

Your question may end up answered here in a future update.

Rutgers Dining Services
620 George Street
Records Hall Rm 104
College Avenue Campus
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1175
Phone: 848-932-8469/8470
Fax: 732-932-3997
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