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Meal Plan FAQs

  • How do I select my meal plan ?
For details on what meal plans we offer and how to get a meal plan, please go to the Meal Plans page.
  • How do I access my meal plan?
Your Redbird ID Card (University ID) is encoded with information regarding your meal plan. You must carry your Redbird ID Card with you in order to access the residential dining centers or use your flex dollars.
  • Where can I use my meal plan?
There are two full service residential dining centers located on campus. You may use your meal plan in both of these locations, no matter where you live: Watterson Dining Commons and Marketplace at Linkins Center. Flex dollars, which must be spent on food or drink, may be used at all dining venues in Bone Student Center; Starbucks in the Student Fitness Center; Subway shops located on campus; sandwich shop located in the State Farm Hall of Business, and vending machines in the residential areas.
  • When can I use my meal plan?
Review our calendar page to see when our dining centers are open for students with meal plans. The calendar is updated periodically so you can check back later for future semester dates and times.
  • Can I use a carry out option in the dining centers?

All meal plan options will allow carry out. However, the Unlimited Access Meal Plans allow a maximum of 3 carry out meals per day.

Dine-in and carryout meals are two separate transactions. If a student would like to eat in the dining center and then get a carry out, they must re-swipe into the dining center to get the carry out box. 

Meal plan holders may not take a seat in the dining center once a carryout box has been obtained.
A carryout meal includes one entrée, two side dishes, and one dessert.
A beverage may be taken to-go, but the meal plan holder must use their own reusable cup.

  • Can I use my meal plan to pay for a guest meal?
You may use flex dollars to pay for a guest meal. Door rates for the 2023-2024 academic year are $7.25 for breakfast, $10.50 for lunch, and $11.75 for dinner. State law requires that all guest meals be charged tax.
  • Can I change my meal plan?
Meal plans can be changed on the housing/dining portal, please refer to the Meal Plans page for information on deadlines. The fall 2023 deadline for changing meal plans is September 8. 
  • As a student living off campus or in Cardinal Court, can I charge my meal plan to my student account?
Yes, these meal plans may be charged to your student account. Please visit the Student Accounts website for more information.
  • How do I tell how much is left on my meal plan?
You may review your usage in Click Finances and then select Redbird Card. It will show your transactions and balances. This information is also stored in the cash registers at the dining centers and retail locations. You may ask for your balance when you visit our venues.
  • What if I run out of flex dollars before the end of the semester?
You may add money to your Redbird Dollars Account through the Redbird Card Office. All retail dining locations accept Redbird dollars.
  • What happens to my meals at the end of the semester?
All meals expire at the end of the semester.
  • What happens to flex dollars at the end of the semester?

Flex dollars remaining at the end of the fall semester will roll over into the spring semester providing a meal plan is retained for the spring semester*. All flex dollars expire at the end of the spring semester and are non-refundable.
If you choose to cancel your meal plan for the spring semester, your flex dollars will expire at the end of the fall semester.

*Students living in traditional residence halls are required to have a meal plan.

  • What constitutes a meal?

Any access into the dining center is considered a meal whether you eat a bagel, a slice of pizza, a salad, a dessert or a beverage. In general, students on a block plan or traditional plan will not want to come into the dining center for a small snack or beverage since they have a limited number of meals they can eat in a semester or week. These students might prefer to purchase beverages and snacks from the retail restaurants on campus or vending machines in the residence halls using their flex dollars. Students on unlimited meal plans are allowed to enter the dining centers as often as they like, so they may choose to come in more frequently for a drink or snack between meals.

Please keep in mind that Unlimited Access Plans allow a maximum of three carry out meals per day.

  • Can I cancel my meal plan if my Housing contract has been cancelled?

Students that were living in the residence halls can cancel their meal plan once they have moved out of their room. 

Students that were living in Cardinal Court or Fell/School street can cancel their meal plan if they have not used any portion of their meal plan (meals or flex dollars).

Nutrition/Dietary Concerns

  • What if I don't think there are enough dining options that fit my diet?

We strongly encourage you to contact our dietitian team to ensure your specific questions are answered, your concerns are addressed, and you are well informed of all the menu options available to fit your needs and preferences. Our registered dietitians offer individual consultations for students with food allergies, restricted diets, and other nutritional needs, including weekly meal planning guidance and menu adaptation. They can be reached via the Ask the Dietitian link at

  • What options are available for students with food allergies?

Please visit the Food Allergies and Other Dietary Needs page on for information on allergen-friendly options for students with food allergies. EMDH has two registered dietitians available to meet with students who have food allergies or other dietary needs. Our registered dietitians offer individual consultations for students with food allergies, restricted diets, and other nutritional needs, including weekly meal planning guidance and menu adaptation. They can be reached at (309) 438-8351 or .

EMDH Student Employment

  • Is EMDH still hiring student employees?

Yes, EMDH is still hiring student positions. Each EMDH student employee plays a critical role in creating safe, memorable experiences for students, guests, and the entire Redbird community. To learn more about the hiring process and to apply for employment, please visit the EMDH employment website.

Food Insecurity

  • What resources are available for students facing challenges related to food insecurity and hardship?

Event Management, Dining, and Hospitality (EMDH) is committed to providing care for the Redbird community. If an Illinois State University student is dealing with challenges related to food insecurity and hardship, they should contact for more information and guidance on the available resources.