Frequently Asked Questions
Students and parents have many questions when it comes to what—and where—they can eat. These FAQs will help you get started. Click the links to jump to the answers, or to a category of questions. If you have a question you don’t see here, contact us.
- Why are residential students required to purchase a meal plan?
- When does my meal plan start?
- Which meal plan is the best option for me?
- Can I change my meal plan?
- Will my meal plan roll over from semester to semester or year to year?
- Can other people use my meal plan?
- Can I bring family members or friends to the dining hall?
- What are guest meals?
- Do I have to eat in the dining hall, or can I take my food to go?
- What are Get Well Meals? What are they for?
- What are Dining Funds?
- If meal plans are unlimited, what are Dining Funds used for?
- What are the differences between Dining Funds and Black Bear Bucks?
- Can I convert my meal swipes to Black Bear Bucks?
- How do I check my balance?
- How do I add funds?
- Can I use my meal plan or Black Bear Bucks at other University of Maine campuses?
- I have a special diet. What do I do?
- How do you accommodate allergies/intolerances?
- Do you offer vegetarian and vegan options?
- How do I know if something is vegetarian or vegan?
- Where can I eat? Am I restricted to one dining hall?
- What hours are dining locations open?
- Where can I check the menu?
- What forms of payment are accepted at concession services?
- Are there job opportunities available?
- What are the safety and sanitation standards for UMaine Dining?
- How does UMaine define local services?
- What do you do with leftovers?
- Where does food waste go?
Why are residential students required to purchase a meal plan?
The University of Maine requires all residential students, except those residing in DTAV or Patch, to purchase a meal plan to ensure that our students are eating, living, and learning in healthful ways. Our dining locations are designed to enhance the social atmosphere of a college campus and offer comfortable seating, Wi-Fi and TVs for students to utilize to work or hang out with their peers. Return to top
When does my meal plan start?
Your meal plan for the fall semester begins on the Friday that you move in late in August. Spring semester meal plans are active the Sunday prior to classes resuming. Return to top
Which meal plan is the best option for me?
Deciding on a meal plan depends on your preference.
- Basic Unlimited: You enjoy eating in the dining hall and do not need to stock your room with pantry items
- Unlimited Flex or Unlimited Flex Plus: You enjoy taking food to go and would like to purchase food to keep in your room from the Hilltop Market or retail outlets
Dining Funds can always be added to a meal plan at any time during the semester. Return to top
Can I change my meal plan?
Students may change their meal plans once during the first six weeks of each semester by logging into myHousing. If you need modification to your meal plan for dietary reasons, contact UMaine Dining’s Dietitian directly. Those with commuter meal plans need to fill out an exception form to change their meal plan. Return to top
Will my meal plan roll over from semester to semester or year to year?
Meals are swipes are unlimited usage and do not roll over. If your meal plan has Dining Funds and you have funds left over from the fall semester, they will automatically roll over to spring semester. Any Dining Funds from spring semester that remain on your MaineCard will be forfeited on Commencement day each May. Return to top
Can other people use my meal plan?
Meal plans are not transferable between students. The meal plan is only for the student to whom it was issued. Keep your MaineCard secure at all times to prevent theft or unauthorized use. Misuse of MaineCards will result in disciplinary measures. Return to top
Can I bring family members or friends to the dining hall?
Yes, family members or friends can come in by using a guest meal or by paying the at the door rate with cash or credit. Students are not able to use their meal swipes to grant access for a family member or friends, but a guest meal can be used. Return to top
What are guest meals?
Guest meals are part of certain meal plans and can be used at our three all-you-care-to-eat facilities for visiting family or friends that do not have a meal plan. If you run out of guest meals, your guests are still welcome. They can pay the at the door rate listed on our website to enjoy a full meal experience. Return to top
Do I have to eat in the dining hall, or can I take my food to go?
Unlimited meal plans offer a certain amount of to-go meals per semester for you to take your meal out of our all-you-care-to-eat facilities. Dining Funds and Black Bear Bucks can be used at our retail locations and food can be carried out. Return to top
What are Get Well Meals? What are they for?
Get Well Meals are available to students who are not able to come into the dining hall due to an injury, or illness that may be easily spread to other students. This program allows students to designate a representative to pick up the food from a particular dining hall. Nutrition is an important part of the healing process, and students can pick from entrees, beverages, vegetables, starches, and soups that are available that day. This program is limited to students who have a residential meal plan.
Black Bear Bucks, Dining Funds, cash, credit or debit are not accepted for payment for this program. Return to top
Dining Funds & Black Bear Bucks
What are Dining Funds?
Dining funds are dollars that may be a part of your meal plan for food and beverage purchases on campus. If your meal plan does not have dining funds, you can add them to your account. They may also be added to your MaineCard if you do not have a meal plan. Dining funds can be charged to your student account or paid for by credit/debit card at the time of purchase. Dining funds roll over from fall semester to spring semester but do not roll over from spring to fall semester. Any balance is forfeited each May. You cannot use dining funds to purchase a meal for a friend or family member. Return to top
If meal plans are unlimited, what are Dining Funds used for?
Dining funds are a declining balance on your MaineCard that are accepted at our retail establishments open throughout the day and late at night (The Bears Den, The Bears Den Café and Pub, Oakes Room, Union Central Market, Hilltop Market and concession services), and can be used to purchase food, beverages, and convenience items. Return to top
What are the differences between Dining Funds and Black Bear Bucks?
Black Bear Bucks is a declining balance account that is paid for at the time when the funds are added to your account and can be used anywhere on or off campus that you need funds (all dining facilities, Hilltop Market, Bookstore, laundry facilities, Maine Bound, and more). Black Bear Bucks roll over from year to year and you can use them to purchase a meal for a friend or family member. See all of the differences between Dining Funds and Black Bear Bucks. Return to top
Can I convert my meal swipes to Black Bear Bucks?
Meal swipes cannot be converted to Black Bear Bucks. Return to top
How do I check my balance?
Any cashier can swipe your card and give you your balance in person. You also can download the Transact e-Accounts app to quickly check balances, and add Dining Funds or Black Bear Bucks to your account, or get your balance at the online card office. Return to top
How do I add funds?
Add funds from the eAccounts icon link located on your MaineStreet portal, or download the eAccounts app to deposit funds quickly and securely to your Black Bear Bucks or Dining Funds accounts. Family members and friends can also make a guest deposit for you at the online card office as long as they know your MaineStreet ID. Any UMaine Dining cashier can add Black Bear Bucks and Dining Funds, or you can use the Fogler Library Value Transfer Station (cash only, located near the Circulation & Reserve desk located on the first floor). Return to top
Can I use my meal plan or Black Bear Bucks at other University of Maine campuses?
You can use Black Bear Bucks at any of the other 6 campuses (Augusta, Farmington, Fort Kent, Machias, Presque Isle, Southern Maine), but not dining swipes or your meal plan from UMaine Dining. Learn more about the OneCard system. Return to top
I have a special diet. What should I do?
Our dietitian Dara Raymond is here to help! She is able to meet with students that have meal plans to discuss how to safely dine with specific dietary needs. Whether you have a food intolerance, allergies, or ethical dietary considerations, we will work with you. Contact Dara. Return to top
How do you accommodate allergies/intolerances?
Menu tags with allergen icons are available for each menu item to indicate if an allergen is present. Each dining facility has a “gluten-free zone” that has items from dedicated gluten-free facilities available to students. A separate microwave and toaster are also available at each gluten-free zone for safe use by students. Hilltop Dining offers an “Allergy Aware” menu at dinner 7 days a week, serving items without ingredients that contain the top 8 allergens (wheat, dairy, tree nuts, peanuts, fish, shellfish, soy, eggs). Our registered dietitian, Dara Raymond, is also able to provide counseling services to students with meal plans to help them find the safest dining options. Learn more about our allergy and intolerance services. Return to top
Do you offer vegan and vegetarian options?
Definitely. Each all-you-care-to-eat dining facility has a vegan or vegetarian hot entree, vegan veggie burgers, salad bars, and fruit and yogurt bars. Made-to-order or action stations (pasta, stir fry, etc) are also able to be customized to include vegan and vegetarian proteins in substitution of meat based options. Menu tags for each menu item clearly state if an item is vegan or vegetarian. Return to top
How do I know if something is vegetarian or vegan?
Every menu item will have a menu tag listing what the food is and if it is vegan or vegetarian. This icon will appear in the upper right hand side of the menu tag. A vegetarian item can include eggs, dairy, and honey but no animal meats. A vegan item means no eggs, dairy, honey, or other animal products are present. If no icon is present, that indicates an animal product is present in the ingredients. Return to top
Where can I eat? Am I restricted to one dining hall?
No, you are able to visit any of our three all-you-care-to-eat dining halls. Dining halls are open to all meal plan holders and to the public, who can pay our at the door rate. Return to top
What hours are dining locations open?
Where can I check the menu?
Weekly menus for the three all-you-care-to-eat facilities, The Bear’s Den, and The Bear’s Den Pub and Café are available here. Be sure to select the correct location from the drop-down. Return to top
What forms of payment are accepted at concession services?
Black Bear Bucks and Dining Funds are able to be used at UMaine Dining run concession services. This excludes booths operated by outside vendors. Cash and credit are also available. Return to top
Are there job opportunities available?
Yes! UMaine Dining hires students for all of our operations. We offer pay starting at $12 per hour, flexible scheduling to accommodate classes, and convenient locations. Learn more and apply. Return to top
What are the safety and sanitation standards for UMaine Dining?
All management team members are Servsafe Certified through the National Restaurant Association and front line employees are trained yearly on proper sanitation, food safety and general safety protocols. Our units are inspected and approved by the Maine State Health Inspector. We adhere to the guidelines set forth in the Maine State Food Code, the CDC and the FDA. Learn more about our safety and sanitation practices. Return to top
How does UMaine define local food?
UMaine defines locally sourced items as any food produced or harvested by a producer or processor within 175 miles of the University System’s seven primary campuses in Maine. Learn more about our commitment to local food. Return to top
What do you do with leftovers?
UMaine Dining partners with the Black Bear Exchange and the Green Campus Initiative, along with area food pantries to ensure that prepared food that is not consumed assists our community with the fight against food insecurity. Return to top
Where does food waste go?
UMaine Dining provides pre-consumer food waste to an on campus composting facility located off Rangeley Road. Waste is combined with horse bedding and wood chips from UMaine’s J.F. Witter Teaching and Research Center. The Earth Flow In-Vessel composting system automates mixing, aeration, and moisture addition to rapidly compost about 1 ton of food waste per day. The compost is used all over campus; at Rogers Farm, at J.F. Witter Teaching and Research Center, on gardens and campus landscaping, and in the UMaine Greens greenhouses. Get more information from the Office of Sustainability. Return to top