Dining Plans FAQ

What are dining plans?

Campus Dining offers a variety of dining plan options for students, living on or off-campus. Having a dining plan gives students the ease of not having to prepare meals so they can focus on their academics and student life during the first year. All components of any dining plan are accessed through the students’ PolyCard (student ID) for fast, convenient access.

What is a Declining Balance?

Campus Dining declining balance funds can be used for purchasing food items at all Campus Dining restaurants, food trucks and markets, including Subway, Yogurt Creations, Shake Smart and Starbucks! They cannot be used for gratuities or to purchase gift cards, clothing, school supplies, mugs, coffee makers and similar non-food merchandise. Declining balance funds are allocated at the beginning of each academic quarter during the regular school year and expire at the end of spring quarter.

What is the cost break down of a dining plan?

The dining plan cost is broken up into three components (1) the declining balance funds on your card to be used on campus to eat, (2) the cost of WOW week meal programming, and (3) base operating expense for the dining program.

What is the Base Operating Expense?

To maintain financial stability for Dining Services and to give students the flexibility of dining plan choices and value, our dining plans are designed to cover students’ food spending on campus and the operating expenses of the dining program. Base operating expenses include the dining program’s overhead and operating costs such as food, labor and utilities.

What happens to my unused declining balance funds if I don’t use them by the end of the quarter?

Unused funds roll over to the next quarter through the end of the academic year. Funds remaining at the end of the spring quarter are forfeited.

If I run out of declining balance funds, what else can I use to buy food on-campus?

Students can use cash, credit/debit cards, apply value to their Campus Express, and purchase Gold Plate Club meal packages.

How do I check my account balance?

Students can swipe their PolyCards (student ID) at the register of any Campus Dining operation to view their current balance or view the information online through their Cal Poly Portal and the Polycard services link.

Are dining plans mandatory for freshman living on-campus?

Campus Dining and University Housing policies require that all entering first-year students living on-campus must have a dining plan for the full academic year. The Housing and Dining License can’t be modified or changed during any time. Please review the Housing and Dining License carefully before submitting the initial payment registration for the Housing and Dining License.

Are there dining plans for students and staff living off-campus?

Gold Plate Club is a convenient and easy way to save on meals for students living off-campus and staff or freshmen who want to supplement their dining plan. Visit the Gold Plate Club webpage for options and information.

Do you offer dining plans in the summer?

Dining plans are not available during the summer, but students can apply value to their Campus Express account.

Where can I find nutritional information about campus foods?

Campus Dining has a team of Food Science and Nutrition students led by the registered dietitian that provides nutrition education and support to students and staff on-campus. They created a comprehensive program of information, resources, and support tools. Please visit the online Nutrition Resource Center for menus, ingredient lists, nutrition facts, food allergy support information, and much more.

I have one or more food allergies and am starting Cal Poly in the fall. Is there something I should do before fall?

If a student has a medically documented dietary restriction that prevents him or her from making full use of the Campus Dining program, he or she should contact Campus Dining. Our Registered Dietitian will work with the student to outline the many food options available in the dining plan venues and help him or her make the best possible use of his or her dining plan when living on-campus. Please note: after reviewing the Campus Dining program and food options, a student needs to determine whether his or her dietary needs can be met before submitting the initial payment registration for the Housing and Dining License. For more information, call (805) 756-5939 or email campusdining@calpoly.edu for further assistance.

Do you have any helpful tools for students with dietary restrictions?

Campus Dining offers many nutrition support resources. Click here to get started. Please contact Campus Dining at (805) 756-5939 or at campusdining@calpoly.edu for further assistance.

Who can I speak to if I have dietary restrictions or special needs?

Campus Dining has a Registered Dietitian on staff that can work with students and staff. Please contact Campus Dining at (805) 756-5939 or e-mail campusdining@calpoly.edu for further assistance. Please note: after reviewing the Campus Dining program and food options, a student needs to determine whether his or her dietary needs can be met before submitting the initial payment registration for the Housing and Dining License.

Where do I go to make payment?

Students log into their Cal Poly portal and access the payment information through the Money Matters tab. Click here to view the dining plan payment schedule and methods.

I made my monthly payment, but why did I get a late fee?

Students may have paid the incorrect amount or paid after business hours, so their payment was processed the next day. To avoid late fees, please carefully follow the payment schedule and procedures. We have helpful representatives on staff available to provide additional support.

Does the State subsidize Campus Dining food services?

Campus Dining does not receive any subsidies from the State for food services. Campus Dining is a commercial division of Cal Poly Corporation, a non-profit auxiliary organization. The Corporation supports the university in achieving its educational mission through a variety of vital, quality services.

What should I do if my PolyCard malfunctions, is lost, or stolen?

If the magnetic stripe appears to have lost its encoding, please bring it to the PolyCard Office in Building 46, Room 100 (The Natatorium, across from Spanos Stadium) to be re-activated. If a student’s PolyCard has been lost or stolen, he or she can deactivate it through the Cal Poly Portal. To maintain a PolyCard, keep it away from magnetic fields such as those created by a TV, stereo, microwave, or magnetic clasps of wallets and purses. Heat, water, and eelskin can also corrupt the magnetic stripe and render the card unreadable. There may be a minimum charge of $5 to replace a lost or stolen card. The PolyCard must be readable by Campus Dining’s cash registers for a purchase to be completed.