Carnegie Mellon Dining Plans: Low in Stress, High in Nutrition and Convenience

Dining Gets It – You’re Busy!

As a Carnegie Mellon student, you’re busy. You have class in an hour, a paper due tomorrow, and a midterm exam next week. On top of everything else, you’re hungry, so it’s hard to concentrate. But your next meal isn’t exactly what you want to be thinking about. So, what are your options?

You could put off eating until after your classes, run to the grocery store, buy ingredients, and cook a nutritious meal at your apartment or residence hall. Of course, by the time you’ve done that, you’ve lost at least two hours of what might have been productive work time — and you could be in for a long night ahead. Alternatively, you could grab a couple of snacks, which will energize you for a while … until you crash and burn a few hours later. With deadlines approaching, the last thing you need is to feel sluggish. There’s got to be a better option, right? There definitely is.

Nutrition Is Paramount to Success

“As a college student, your mental and physical health is as important as your education and extra-curriculars. In fact, nutrition is essential to success,” says Jessica Tones, dietitian and nutrition educator for Carnegie Mellon Dining Services. “Eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods has been linked to improved cognition and mental functioning, in addition to lower stress levels, lower rates of chronic disease, and lower incidences of mood disorders. Having a dining plan helps you nourish your body consistently throughout the day.”

Of course, the problem is that stress and poor nutrition often go hand in hand: stress or lack of time leads to poor food choices, which in turn leads to a diminished physical and mental state that further increases stress in a vicious cycle. This cycle can be hard to break, but Carnegie Mellon’s dining program is designed to provide students with, convenient meal options for every palate.

A Healthful and Convenient Way to Eat on Campus

CMU’s dining plans offer a range of options and choices for students throughout their time as an undergraduate student or graduate student. They offer convenience for students who live or spend a lot of time on campus because dining locations exist on nearly every part and corner of campus. Additionally, investing in a meal plan removes the stress of figuring out where your next meal is going to come from, making it easier to take care of yourself (and treat yourself) when you’re busy or stressed.

Community Dining Plans

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Carnegie Mellon’s Community Dining plans offer undergraduate and graduate students a mix of meal blocks and flexible dollars per semester. Traditional Dining Plans, which are required for first-year students and function on a biweekly basis, are also available for undergrads and grads.

Students Say It Best

But don’t take Dining Services’ word for it: many current students enrolled in meal plans rely on them to stay healthy — and end up being pretty happy, too.

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Current student Russell Holbert (left) not only loves his CMU dining plan but also Au Bon Pain (ABP) and Bri, who is part of the ABP team, as indicated by this photo he posted on the To Dining With Love Facebook page on Valentine’s Day. Thanks for all the love, Russell!

Russell Holbert, a soon-to-be-senior studying music, said this about his meal plan: “I love having a meal plan! It let’s me be social while eating my meals and helps me attend more events on campus. I don’t worry about finding time to shop and cook. It’s been such a convenience being able to get food where and when I want it, and it has helped me maintain commitments around campus at any time of day.”

After all, mealtime shouldn’t just be a study break. It’s an opportunity to explore campus, socialize with friends, and even meet new people. And with the extra time afforded to Russell by having diverse food options at his fingertips, he can take advantage of everything Carnegie Mellon has to offer, including extra-curriculars and special events.

Kanisha Vaughn, a junior studying psychology, echoed Russell’s sentiments: “I personally like having a meal plan because I like the convenience of being able to get food on campus, especially at times when I’m on campus late or need to grab quick food in the middle of the day. I would love to be able to cook regularly, and I did try it for a while, but I often get home late at night, and once I’m in my dorm room, I usually don’t want to have to cook — in fact, I usually just want to go directly to sleep. So it’s nice knowing that if I have the time and desire to cook, I can; but if I don’t have time to cook one week, I don’t have to force myself to take the time out to do so, since I have a meal plan.”

Dining Is Here to Serve You!

At Carnegie Mellon University, dining plans vary based on students’ needs and interests; they’re flexible, so students can get the most out of their meal plan. With more than 30 locations across campus, you’ll never have to eat at the same place twice in a row (unless you want to), and you’ll always have access to a satisfying meal, whether it’s an early breakfast or second dinner late at night. Chances are, you’re already busy enough — don’t let meals stress you out even more!

Learn more about your meal plan options today!

12 Helpful Hints from Housing Services at Carnegie Mellon

It’s back to school time! In case you are stressing about what’s already in your room (so you don’t have to pack as much), wondering about washing clothes and keeping your favorite refrigerated snacks nearby (as in an arm-reach from your desk), or worrying about what happens if you accidentally lock yourself out of your room (it happens), this blog is for you. Below are 12 tips from Housing Services to get you prepared for move-in day and the exciting year ahead!

1. The ‘basics’ are provided.

What are the basics?

  • a twin extra-long bed
  • built-in closet or wardrobe
  • dresser
  • desk and desk chair
  • trash can
  • recycle bin
  • cable television hook-up
  • wireless or wired internet
  • toilet paper, trash bags, light bulbs, vacuum cleaner (just ask your RA!)

(Apartment or suite-style rooms will have additional living room and kitchen furniture.)

 2. Definitely pack this stuff.

  • clothes (and remember, it gets cold in Pittsburgh … brrr!)
  • clothes hangers
  • desk lamp
  • laundry basket/bag and laundry soap
  • mugs, cups, plates, utensils
  • reusable water bottle
  • storage bins
  • toiletries (soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, etc.)
  • umbrella (it also rains a lot in Pittsburgh. Despite the rain and snow, we promise Pittsburgh is awesome!)
  • surge protector/power strip
  • school supplies
  • university documents

Don’t want to pack sheets and blankets? You don’t have to! The Carnegie Mellon Bookstore partners with the Student Dormitory Council and Bed, Bath, and Beyond to offer a full line of linens (designed to fit extra long mattresses), comforters, towels, blankets, and many other supplies to make your move-in transition smooth and effortless. Order by July 30 to ensure your selections and to make sure they will be delivered to your room on time. 

Another little tip – start with packing the essentials and then buy more items as needed once you are here. Many stores are just a short shuttle or bus ride away, and the university store has many essential items, too.

3. Easy in, easy out. Inspect your room once you are checked in.

Upon checking in, each student must inspect his or her room, apartment, or house and complete an electronic Living Space Condition Report (eLSCR) as accurately as possible. This report plays an important role in tracking damages from check-in to check-out and is the main component of spring closing inspections.

So, once you are checked in, log into the Housing Portal  to complete your eLSCR. Watch the tutorial on exactly how to do it:

4. You can “cook” and cool in your own room.

microfridgeMicrowaves and mini fridges are permitted within the residence halls. Residents may bring their own compact microwaves (under 700 watts) and mini-refrigerators (smaller than 4.5 cubic feet and operate on 110/120 VAC).

If you’d rather not worry about measurements and wattage, you have the convenient option of renting a microwave refrigerator/freezer (all in one compact unit) that will be installed in your room prior to when you move-in, if you order by August 10. To rent one, click here. (These also get removed after move-out in the spring.)

5. Doing laundry is a cinch at CMU.

Laundry services are included for on-campus residents. To wash and dry clothes, simply load up a machine, choose your cycle, and push start. Why can’t all things in life be that simple? To make things even more convenient, use this handy-dandy Laundry Viewer to see if washers and dryers are available before walking to the laundry room.

6. I locked myself out. What do I do?

7. Don’t suffer in silence … submit a work order!

Housing Services is here to help you with (most) of your facility maintenance needs. All non-emergency requests for maintenance in the residence halls (including furniture requests) should be submitted via the Housing Portal. (Only students who are checked into their room will be able to submit a maintenance request.) When submitting a request, make sure to be as detailed as possible so that we can address the problem in the best way possible.

Our goal is to complete all maintenance requests within seven working days. An exception to this goal is during opening, when maintenance requests come in at a high volume. Please note that maintenance requests (particularly those for lofting or de-lofting) may take up to four weeks after classes start to complete – we appreciate your patience during this very busy time!

Watch the tutorial video on how to submit a maintenance request:

8. How and where can I print?

For an on-campus student resident, a personal printer is not needed. Save money on ink and paper by using the campus printing stations, many of which reside in residence halls. Each student receives $40 per semester in printing, just swipe your CMU ID to print.

Printing stations are located in Morewood Gardens, Mudge House, Donner House, the Hill Service Center, West Wing, and Residence on Fifth.

9. Visit the student front desks.

Front desks are located in Donner (open 10 am to 2 am, daily), Morewood Gardens (open 24/7), Mudge (open 10 am to 2 am, daily), Stever (open 10 am to 2 am, daily), and the Residence on Fifth (open 24/7) to provide safety, security, and customer service for our residents and guests. (The Morewood Gardens Makerspace desk is open from noon to 12 am, daily.) The desks offer a variety of equipment available for check-out, including:

  • cooking supplies
  • pool cues/pool balls
  • board games
  • DVDs
  • remote controls
  • ping pong paddles
  • music room keys
  • red moving carts

These desks are staffed by students, who are happy to answer any questions you might have!

10. Get involved.

There are many ways to get involved on campus, and getting involved in your residence hall community is one way. The committees below look for feedback from current students about how to improve the Carnegie Mellon residential and student experience. Look for more information on bulletin boards or our social media sites!

11. Find a student job on campus.

Are you interested in an on-campus job? If so, start by utilizing Handshake, our campus wide recruiting system. Housing Services posts multiple year-round positions, such as the Desk Services Assistant position and Office Assistant position.

12. Start planning for semester breaks.

Depending on the building you live in, your building may close for winter break, so be sure to plan travel accordingly. Most buildings close on Tuesday, December 19, at 12:00 pm, for Winter Break, and re-open on Friday, January 12, at 12:00 pm. The buildings that remain open are Morewood E-Tower, Morewood Gardens, the Residence on Fifth, Shirley Apartments, Webster Hall Apartments, and Fairfax Apartments.

Thanks for reading and we hope these tips are helpful! Housing Services is  anxiously awaiting your arrival!

Contact us at housing@andrew.cmu.edu or 412-268-2139 with any questions you may have.

Getting to Know Mandy Best

Mandy Best is the Housefellow for Donner House, a first-year residence hall affectionately known as “Big Blue.” In addition to her role as Housefellow, she is also a coordinator for Residential Education, spearheading Spirituality and Interfaith Initiatives for the campus community, and advising INSPIRE (Interfaith and Spirituality Embassy) – a student group focused on advancing interfaith cooperation and spiritual well-being at Carnegie Mellon University. She also serves as staff support for the Council of Religious Advisors (CORA), a group of religious and lay leaders organized around supporting and encouraging religious and spiritual life within the campus community.

Mandy completed her undergraduate studies in psychology at Geneva College. She went on to earn her master’s in education in school counseling from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania.

How did you come to join Carnegie Mellon?

When I finished my master’s degree, I was doing mental health counseling with children in their homes. Though it was incredibly important and meaningful work, I really wanted to find a job in education. For years a friend had been telling me that I would be a good fit for the Housefellow position at CMU. When there was finally an opening, she called me and said, “it’s time!” I applied, interviewed, and got the job, which happened to start two days after my wedding. So I cancelled my honeymoon, packed up my house, and here I am! (And we were fortunately able to reschedule our trip for the following summer!)

What makes the Donner House community so awesome?

During orientation, Donner residents learn this simple truth: “Donner is blue. Blue is nice. Therefore, Donner is nice!” Donner is a community full of history, folklore, pride, and its residents bleed blue! There’s something about Donner that’s infectious.

Housing Blog Donner

The building itself is set up in a way that encourages its residents to get to know others throughout the entire building — not just their roommates or floormates — so it really does feel like a big blue family. This means residents have many, many opportunities to form connections with others.

Also, Donner is situated in an ideal location on campus. Because of its close proximity to the design, architecture, and art studios, and to Skibo gym, Donner often draws large groups of both art students and athletes. (And, occasionally, art students who are athletes!) We are truly a diverse community that embraces and celebrates different and unique interests, passions, and personalities.

The residents of Donner House also run a completely student-managed website about the Donner community: http://cmudonner.weebly.com/. There’s bios about the residential staff, information about events, and frequently asked questions. Check it out!

What kinds of special first-year programs take place in Donner?

Donner has a few events that are unique to our community. Most notably are Pohlees and Whale Week. Pohlees is an annual variety fair hosted in Donner which features a coffee-house talent show, food, games, crafts, and other activities throughout the house. The week leading up to Pohlees is Whale Week, where we jam-pack the house full of things that are blue: tie-dye, blue food, blue crafts, and if we’re lucky, painting the Fence blue! It’s a big celebration of all things blue … and, of course, by extension, nice!

What is an important life lesson you have learned from a student or students?

Our students have taught me that if you really believe in an idea, you shouldn’t delay in finding a way to make it come to life.

Outside of work, what are your hobbies/interests? What are you passionate about?

Mandy and her husband enjoying nature in Glacier National Park in Montana.
Mandy and her husband enjoying nature in Glacier National Park in Montana.

I can’t seem to stop making things. My main creative interest is quilting, but I also dabble in hand-lettering, crocheting, baking, and folding tiny origami stars. I’ve recently learned how to make jewelry out of precious metal clay. It has been a really fun process to learn and gives me an excuse to own a torch and light things on fire in my kitchen, which of course is endlessly amusing.

I also love being outside in nature. I’m passionate about the work that’s being done at Camp Lutherlyn, a summer camp where I spent several years working with the summer-time and year-round staff. I now serve on the board of directors and try to find any excuse possible to spend some time at camp.

All-time favorite book?

This is a hard question, because I read a lot but I never read the same book more than once. I love anything and everything by Anne Lamott, and I was fascinated by Katniss and the Hunger Games world. I recently read Neil Patrick Harris’s autobiography which was written as a choose your own adventure. I highly recommend it if you want a good laugh. I think maybe my all-time favorite book is still out there waiting for me to pick it up. I guess I need to keep reading!

Tell us at least one thing that’s on your bucket list.

Oh there are so many things! I’ve always wanted to join an ice hockey team. (Who knows if I’d be good at it – I can skate, so that’s a start!) I want to buy a camper and drive across the country with my husband and our dog. I’d love to learn to play the ukulele. I recently bought tickets to see Hamilton on Broadway, so I’m looking forward to checking that one off the list.

If you could give first-year students one single piece of advice as they start their journey here at Carnegie Mellon, what would it be?

Be intentional with and protective of your time. Don’t just do things because you think you “should” or because it seems like that’s what everyone else is doing. Reflect on what’s important to you, what you love, and what you value, and craft your life in a way that is consistent with that and nothing else.

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