Diving in to On-Campus Dining

The socially-distanced dining hall McNary, shows the on-campus options for the Oregon State community. The normally packed dining hall now provides grab-and-go food options.

Hello and welcome, dear freshman. If you love and crave food as much as I do, which is why I’m writing this article, then you’ve come to the right place.

Allow me to share with you the many wonders of on-campus dining, and among the variety of foods that are offered, you might just find ones that appeal to your taste! Bon appétit!

First of all, there are two ways that you can purchase food, with Dining Dollars and Orange Cash, and depending on which method you use, you can dine at certain places. 

Dining Dollars are attached to your Oregon State University ID card, which you should’ve signed up for when you applied for housing. You can spend this in any one of the three dining centers: Marketplace West, McNary Dining, and Southside Station @ Arnold. Even better, you can use your Dining Dollars at small cafés located on campus such as Off the Quad in the Memorial Union and Bing’s Cafe in Weatherford. You also  get a 20 percent discount every time you purchase a meal at a dining center location. You can check your balance at any time using the online website MyUHDS under the heading “Dining Plan.” 

Like I mentioned earlier, Dining Dollars can be used at Off the Quad, too. In my opinion, Off the Quad has the best breakfast on campus. As one who is not an early riser, I would wake up early just so that I could be on time to grab breakfast at Off the Quad before class started. If there is one food item you have to try, it would be the biscuits at Off the Quad, which are offered either sweet or savory. Just the thought of it is mouthwatering. 

On the other hand, Orange Cash is a separate account that can be used at restaurants and coffee shops not run by University Housing & Dining Services on campus such as Panda Express and JavaStop inside the MU. Orange Cash also gives you a discount of 10 percent. You can track your balance and add Orange Cash to your account through the MyCard website.

If you are a new OSU student living on campus, you will have automatically received $100 to your Orange Cash account. And guess what? Other than using Orange Cash for food, you can also spend it on printing and mailing as well as bowling in the MU basement. Although you can use Orange Cash at the dining centers as well, remember that Dining Dollars work at dining centers and Orange Cash can be used at all the other food options on campus. So make sure you’re using the right card when choosing where to eat. 

I remember when I was a freshman just starting out with $100 of Orange Cash, I had spent it all on Panda Express, so I definitely recommend checking that out. In pre-COVID-19 times, there wouldn’t be enough room for a line anymore because so many people wanted Panda Express for lunch. I typically like to order the Orange Chicken, which is a common favorite.

If you’re ever wondering which places are open, the hours for all of the restaurants on campus are updated daily here. See this page for weekly menus (but keep in mind that not all items may be available due to COVID-19). You can use this page for daily nutrition information.

Also, shoutout to Five-Four-One at the McNary Dining Center, because trust me, you do not want to miss out on their pasta. Another great tip is knowing about Make Cents meals that cost $4.70 or less. You can get a plate of grains, fruit or vegetable with a protein for a balanced, nutritious diet. You can find the Make Cents Daily Specials here.

Now that you understand the dining system, it is important to be aware of the COVID-19 regulations. I would advise you to follow the signs in the dining locations directing you to “Enter” or “Exit,” and usually there will be arrows on the ground indicating one-way traffic in addition to markings that guide social distancing. Masks are required, and sanitation stations will be provided for your use. All food items will be served to-go. 

Lastly, for anyone who has allergies or dietary needs like vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free friendly, and halal, foods on the menu are labeled as such. Should you have any further questions, please contact Tara Sanders, UHDS’s registered dietitian, at this link

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