Meal Plan Frequently Asked Questions

Meal Plan FAQs

Meal Plan FAQs

Where are R&DE Stanford Dining and R&DE Stanford Hospitality & Auxiliaries' café and market locations and hours of operation?
R&DE Stanford Dining map and hours of operation.
R&DE Stanford Hospitality & Auxiliaries hours of operation.

R&DE Stanford Dining reserves the right to modify dining hall service days and/or hours of operation as needed and without prior notification.

Where can I use my meal plan?
Please visit the hours and locations page

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Which retail venues accept my meal plan and Cardinal Dollars?

Retail Venue

Cardinal Dollars

Meal Plan Dollars










Kikka Sushi



Panda Express












Forbes Family Café



The Axe and Palm at Old Union



Alumni Café



Olives @ Bldg. 160



Russo Café



The Market at Munger



Law School Café



Med Café



Go to to purchase Cardinal Dollars.

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Are there any locations open after regular meal hours?
R&DE Stanford Dining recognizes that sometimes arranging a late plate or making one of the late dinner periods just isn’t feasible or students might want to meet for study groups somewhere other than their houses or libraries. Arrillaga Family Dining Commons offers continuous service on weekdays, which means there is food served between breakfast and lunch and lunch and dinner. In addition, R&DE Stanford Dining has Arrillaga Nights at Arrillaga and Late Night at Lakeside that offer after hours dining for students. Meal Plan Dollars and Cardinal Dollars may be used at R&DE Stanford Hospitality & Auxiliaries' cafés including The Axe and Palm, which is open until 2am! For more information regarding R&DE Stanford Dining hours of operation and locations please visit the hours and locations page

Why am I required to purchase a meal plan?
Students living in Branner, Crothers, Florence Moore, Lagunita, Manzanita, Ricker/Sterling Quadrangle, Roble, Stern, Toyon, Wilbur, Murray, Yost, and EAST are required by the University to purchase R&DE Stanford Dining meal plans. Dining halls offer a variety of All-You-Care-To-Eat services. Yost, Murray, and EAST Houses each have unique meal plans that include All-You-Care-To-Eat service combined with Open Kitchen privileges.

Mealtimes play a key role in helping to build a sense of community within a house and in promoting interaction between residents, faculty and guests. For this reason, all students living in an undergraduate residence must purchase the meal plan offered by their residence. In most cases, this is a R&DE Stanford Dining Meal Plan.

In the Suites, students are required to belong to student-managed eating clubs that provide meals and plan social events. Student-managed houses (self-ops or co-ops) offer their own required meal plans. Students living in Escondido Village, Lyman, Mirrielees Apartments, Rains or Schwab have private kitchens, and thus no meal plan is required in those residences. Full meal plans, the Apartment Meal Plan or Cardinal Dollars are all popular choices.

R&DE Stanford Dining meal plans are billed once each quarter during autumn, winter and spring. You will automatically be enrolled in the 14 meals plus meal plan dollars’ plan. You are required to pay for the meal plan for which you are billed, within the specified time, even if you later change your meal plan. Separate charges or credits resulting from such changes will appear on your statement after each change.

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What types of meal plans are available?
R&DE Stanford Dining has developed three different meals plans from which our students can select the one that best suits their needs.

All-You-Care-To-Eat Meal Plans.
Available to residents of Branner, Stern, Florence Moore, Lagunita, Roble, Wilbur, Manzanita, Crothers, Toyon, and Ricker/Sterling Quadrangle.

R&DE Stanford Dining offers the following All-You-Care-To-Eat meal plan options:
19 Meals per Week
14 Meal per Week + 420 Meal Plan Dollars per year
10 Meals per Week + 750 Meal Plan Dollars per year

Open Kitchen.
Available to residents of Yost, Murray, and EAST Houses only.
11 meals per week + 345 Meal Plan Dollars per year

Children 6 and under dine for free
Children 7 to 12 are half price
Children 13 and up are regular price

For more information, about meal plans, choices, and rates, please visit our Meal Plan page.

Your plan card and privileges are nontransferable; you cannot use your plan to obtain food or drink for others, except when using your plan’s guest meal privileges for guests.

Who do I contact to change my meal plan?
Online meal plan changes can be made up until the last two weeks of the quarter. To change your meal plan in person, you can visit the Meal Plan Customer Service Office at Arrillaga Family Dining Commons Meal Plan Office on the first floor, 489 Arguello Way, Stanford, CA 94305, by calling the Meal Plan Customer Service line at (650) 723-4751, or by email at (include your name, SUID number).

Students can change their meal plan by logging into their account using the My Account option on this website.

What day does my meal plan cycle start and end each week?
The weekly cycle starts with Sunday brunch and ends with Saturday dinner each week. Your meal plan weekly meal balances are reset on Saturday after dinner.

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I do not have a meal plan. Am I still able to eat in a Dining Hall?
Yes! The Apartment Meal Plan or Cardinal Dollars are popular choices. You can also use a credit card and indulge yourself with unlimited trips through the serving lines.





Student (no tax)




Non-Student (includes tax)




*All prices subject to change. Rates listed above are for the 2015/16 Academic Year.

Do I always need to eat in my residence hall?
The University encourages students to eat in their residence hall. Taking meals together with your housemates and guests is an essential part of Stanford’s Residential Education program. Your meal plan allows you to also eat with friends in other residential dining halls. In addition meal plan holders are provided with five bonus guest meals per quarter in order to host guests in their dining halls. Meal Plan dollars may also be used in select R&DE Stanford Hospitality & Auxiliaries cafes. Click here for the complete list where Meal Plan Dollars may be used.

Each quarter, meal plan members can use their guest meal passes to purchase meals for guests accompanying the member. Guest meals cannot be used for your own meals.

What if I am sick or I can’t come to the dining hall at the scheduled meal time?
R&DE Stanford Dining management works diligently to schedule our dining hall hours to accommodate our students’ varied schedules. However, if your schedule does not allow you to dine during regular meal hours, our kitchens are set up to provide you with a "Sack Lunch" or a "Late-Plate" dinner. The procedure is to sign up at least 24 hours in advance with the Dining Hall Manager. You may also sign up online for a “Sack Lunch” or a “Late Plate” by clicking the Cardinal on the Run link in the side-bar of this page. For dinner, the student selects food from the posted menu for dinner that day. For more information regarding dining hall hours of operation and locations please visit the hours and locations.

Sick trays are available if you are ill and unable to come to a dining unit for a scheduled meal. Sick trays can be picked up in any residential meal plan dining room at breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Another student who is eligible for that meal can present your meal plan card (and his or her card) to the dining hall to pick up a sick tray meal for you. One meal will then be deducted from your plan’s weekly meal balance.

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Meal Plan Dollars and Cardinal Dollars: What’s the difference?
Cardinal Dollars allow you to increase dining flexibility within meal plans by providing dining facility choices outside of your residence. Adding Cardinal Dollars to your Stanford ID card eliminates the need to carry cash and provides you with the security and convenience of a card. One Cardinal Dollar is equal to US$1.00. Purchase $100 worth of Cardinal Dollars and receive a 10% bonus. With Cardinal Dollars, you can meet friends for lunch at their dining hall, dine at cafes around campus and sample R&DE Stanford Dining's late night eateries.

Meal Plan Dollars 
Purchased ONLY within the context of an All-You-Care-To-Eat meal plan, all Meal Plan Dollars can be used in residential dining halls as well as select R&DE Stanford Hospitality & Auxiliaries cafés. Click here for the complete list where Meal Plan Dollars may be used.

Up to fifty (50) total unused Meal Plan Dollars will transfer from quarter to quarter. All unused Meal Plan Dollars above 50 will expire at the close of each quarter. Please note that students will only be qualified for the rollover amount as long as they are enrolled in Stanford Dining meal plan in the following terms.

Cardinal Dollars 
Purchased in addition to an All-You-Care-To-Eat meal plan or separately throughout the year, Cardinal Dollars can be used in all the same ways as Meal Plan Dollars. Click here for the complete list where Cardinal Dollars may be used.

Enrolled students can purchase Cardinal Dollars by logging in to their account using the Manage Your Account option on this website (under the "Students" header). On-line orders are charged to your University bill.

Students can also submit an order via email. Send the email from your SUNet account to Be sure to include your SUID number and how much you wish to purchase. Email orders are billed to your University bill.

Anyone may purchase Cardinal Dollars with a credit card at the Cardinal Dollars page online, check or credit card by visiting the Meal Plan Customer Service Office on the first floor of Arrillaga Family Dining Commons, 489 Arguello Way, Stanford, CA 94305, by calling the Meal Plan Customer Service line at (650) 723-4751, or by email at

Can I buy gift cards with my Meal Plan Dollars?
No, Meal Plan Dollars can only be used at residential dining halls and select R&DE Stanford Hospitality & Auxiliary Cafes.

Can I use more than one meal swipe per meal period?
You may only use one meal per meal period in the dining halls. Any additional meals during the same meal period must be purchased with Guest meals, Meal Plan Dollars, Cardinal Dollars, or Credit Card.

Can I change my meal plan at any time? What happens to my meals and my Meal Plan Cardinal Dollars when I do?
You may change your meal plan online up until the last two weeks of the quarter. When a meal plan change is made, any existing rollover meal(s) you may have in the system are lost. Meal plan changes are prorated on a daily basis. For plans with meal plan dollars, the used amount of your old plan will be charged, and you’ll be charged the minimum required amount for participating in your new plan. There is no Administrative Fee for changing meal plans. You are required to pay for the meal plan for which you are billed, within the specified time, even if you later change your meal plan. Separate charges or credits resulting from such changes will appear on your statement after each change.

Students who live in Yost, Murray or EAST are required to maintain the meal plan designated specifically for those houses; no changes.

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How do I get a meal plan exemption?
Exemptions from R&DE Stanford Dining Meal Plans are issued for medical or religious reasons only. R&DE Stanford Dining will go out of its way to provide students with acceptable options at every meal service. For special dietary needs due to medical reasons, students must first contact their R&DE Stanford Dining Manager and consult with a R&DE Stanford Dining Registered Dietitian. Each exemption request must be accompanied by acceptable written documentation from an independent (non-relative) medical doctor or respective clergy person. An exemption request must meet specific criteria before a review is conducted and a decision is finalized.

Exemptions for medical reasons are approved by the Office of Accessible Education (OAE), and those for religious reasons are considered through the Stanford Office for Religious Life.

If a student receives a meal plan exemption and lives in a residence that requires a meal plan, a general administrative (fixed-cost) overhead fee is assessed each quarter the meal plan exemption is in force.

I was exempt from the meal plan, why do I have to pay an administrative overhead fee?
Stanford University has one of the finest, highest quality, most flexible and most comprehensive student meal programs in the country. R&DE Stanford Dining's foundation is a residential education model with community based dining which allows students to primarily eat where they live in a variety of dining hall models (freshman only, theme house, co-op, self-op or apartment living). This model is not designed to create as much efficiency as possible, but to allow students to have residence based dining options over the entire expanse of the campus. If R&DE Stanford Dining were similar to some other universities, it would likely have only one or two dining halls on the entire campus, but this would significantly reduce the amount of student relationship building that occurs in the residences. The historic tradition of eating in the dining hall at the student residence allows students to dine together and form community around the dining room tables while experiencing residential education programs. The dining halls are open for student use (not just dining) whether they eat there or not, whether they eat all of their meals or not and regardless of what type of diner they are including student athletes, vegetarian, vegan, halal or other religious or restrictive diets. One of the significant differences between the Stanford meal plan and other universities is students are also allowed to dine in a number of the campus cafes as a convenience and the dining halls are open for an expansive number of hours from 7am-2am.

Contributing to the administrative cost of running the entire dining hall operation that are separate from food include items such as maintenance and facility renovations, utilities relating to keeping the dining halls open as dining and student study space, debt service for renovations, building maintenance and grounds upkeep, management and administrative functions and university general support administration. These expenses exist regardless of whether a student eats any meals in the dining halls. The cost of food is minimal in comparison to labor, the largest cost and essentially a fixed expense due to the extensive hours of operation. By living on campus and participating in the Residential Education experience and the on-campus community, students are a beneficiary of these programs and by default of living on campus in the overall facility administrative expenses. These operating costs are funded by each of the students living in all of the undergraduate residences (except Mirrielees) regardless of its inclusion in a R&DE Stanford Dining meal program. R&DE Stanford Dining is a university department, but it does not receive a funding offset from the university for the overhead of a meal plan or an exempted meal plan student.

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I am allergic to peanuts. What can R&DE Stanford Dining do to help me?
Peanuts are quickly becoming one of the world’s most allergic foods, and 3 million Americans currently suffer from all levels of nut and peanut allergies. Here at Stanford, some students have such severe peanut allergies that they must avoid eating in our dining halls for fear of contact with peanut material residue on countertops, breathing in vapors from peanut shell fumes, or ingesting as little as one-five thousandth of a teaspoon of food containing peanuts.

In response to a clear need for peanut allergy awareness in university dining services nationwide, R&DE Stanford Dining has made Ricker Dining the first on-campus dining facility in the country to designate itself a peanut-sensitive environment. R&DE Stanford Dining is paving the way for other institutions to follow in our footsteps, and we are proud to be able to meet such a pressing health need of our students.

What is the alcohol policy in the dining halls?
Alcoholic beverages are prohibited and my not be possessed or consumed in R&DE Stanford Dining Halls, outside seating and patio areas. University Dining staff can deny admission, access, or meal service to anyone who is deemed to be overly intoxicated by the Dining Management staff.

When are my Meal Plan and Meal Plan Dollars available for use?
The 2015-2016 academic residential dining meal plan schedule is as follows:

Season Dates
Autumn September 18, 2015 - December 11, 2015
Winter January 2, 2016 - March 18, 2016
Spring March 26, 2016 - June 8, 2016
Summer June 16, 2016 - August 21, 2016 (8-week session) or September 6, 2016 (10-week session)

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Do I need my Stanford ID card to eat and what do I do if I lose my Stanford ID Card?
Your Stanford ID Card is also your dining card. Carry it with you always!  Remember to bring your card to all meals or be prepared to pay cash. We cannot make exceptions. Protect your meal plan balances! For your own protection, if you lose your Stanford ID Card, you will want to report it lost as soon as possible. We suggest you report your lost card in person, at the ID Card Office (459 Lagunita Drive, Tresidder Union, Student Services Center on the 2nd floor), where you will be issued a replacement card immediately.

One meal, equivalent meal plan dollars or a guest meal will be deducted from your plan’s weekly meal balance upon each entry into a dining room. Without exception, meal plan members are required to present a valid card to gain entrance. R&DE Stanford Dining reserves the right to have an employee inspect ID cards at any time and to request other appropriate identification.

Is it generally possible to host political or religious events in the R&DE Stanford Dining Hall?
R&DE Stanford Dining does not take political nor religious positions and does not co-sponsor nor advertise these types of events.

Can I post a flier/poster, eblast, etc. with the R&DE Stanford Dining name or logo on it?
We do not allow fliers, posters, etc. to be posted or distributed with the R&DE Stanford Dining name, logo or use of the name of any Dining Hall without the prior written consent by the Executive Director of R&DE Stanford Dining. Any fliers, posters, marketing materials, etc. that are found to contain this information will be removed without prior notice.

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What is the process for requesting approval for working on a class project?
Stanford students working on Stanford University approved class assignments or class projects and that are related to residential dining hall operations are reviewed for approval and typically granted so long as they do not violate the privacy or property interests of others; and so long as they comply with applicable University policies and procedures, however they must first gain the express written approval by the Executive Director of R&DE Stanford Dining before proceeding. Under no circumstances can the audio or visual recording, interview, photograph, film or video, or any information provided by R&DE staff or gained through additional access in the residential dining halls in the course of working on an approved class project, be used for commercial or other purposes. Students can request this approval by contacting their residential dining hall manager and submitting a request for approval in writing detailing the class name, faculty member, project name, timeline of project, process (audio or visual recording, interview, photograph, film or video), any data request and interview questions for the dining hall staff. Please allow 3-5 business days for review and response to the initial submission as there may be multiple student requests for information. Please fill out this form to request approval for working on a class project.

Can students or student groups post information on the student community boards?
We encourage students or student groups to post comments, fliers, photos, etc. on the bulletin boards. But please behave. We may monitor and remove inappropriate, offensive or any other postings.

Will R&DE Stanford Dining sponsor our group's event fundraiser for a good cause?
With over 600 student groups on campus, we could not possibly support all of the important and worthy student initiatives on campus. Our funding comes only from meal plan students and we need to be fiscally responsible to maintain the integrity of the dining hall meal program. Since the student meal plan is the only source of revenue for R&DE Stanford Dining to offset the operating expenses of running the dining halls, it is used to support dining hall activities and programs. We are unable to allow meal plan dollars to be used for purposes other than the direct relationship to the function of the dining halls.

Conditions of Meal Servings Policy
The meal plan program features unlimited servings of all meals eaten in the residential meal plan dining rooms. It is your responsibility to take only what you can reasonably eat at each meal (All You Care to Eat policy). R&DE Stanford Dining reserves the right to limit the number of servings at special event meals. All food is intended for consumption in the dining hall premises. The food you select is to be consumed on the premises and not removed from the dining hall. Plates, trays, glassware and dishware are not to be removed from any of the dining room areas. R&DE Stanford Dining reserves the right to inspect any packages, coats, bags, purses, etc., brought into the dining areas. Meal plan students apprehended for theft of food or property, allowing another person to use their meal card, or any other attempt to defraud can be subject to Stanford University’s judicial system

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