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!

Savor the Flavor of Eating Right!

National Nutrition Month® is a nutrition education and information campaign created annually in March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.

The National Nutrition Month® theme for 2016 is “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right,” which encourages everyone to take time to enjoy food traditions and appreciate the pleasures, great flavors and social experiences food can add to our lives.

Carnegie Mellon University Dining Services is celebrating National Nutrition Month® with a series of events and by highlighting some of the healthy and delicious food options we offer across campus throughout the academic year.

Attend a National Nutrition Month® Event!

Make sure to stop by one or all of the following special events taking place on Wednesdays throughout the remainder of March.

March 23, 10:30 am – 1:00 pm
Tazza D’Oro in the Gates Hillman Complex

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Tazza D’Oro will be handing out free samples of its new homemade, healthy grab-and-go items (see below). While you’re noshing on yummy free samples, you can also spin the nutrition trivia wheel with our PHAs for fun prizes!

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The Underground in Morewood Gardens

More prize wheel nutrition trivia with PHAs will take place later in the day at The Underground, with free samples of the UG’s fruit and nut salad on Wednesday, March 16, and the filling of the bean and rice wrap on Wednesday, March 23.

Farmers Market
March 30, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm
Merson Courtyard outside of the Cohon Center

Celebrate spring and locally-sourced food at the first Farmers Market of the semester! Chef Vic will conduct a cooking demonstration and delicious items will be available for purchase including but not limited to fresh hand-pulled mozzarella, baguettes, focaccia and Italian bread baked fresh from Breadworks, hot house grown herbs, tomatoes, mushrooms, and Naturi yogurt.

Do Something Good for You: Eat Healthy!

We can all agree it’s not easy to eat healthy all the time … but it certainly is easier when your healthy food choices are also delicious. Below is a short list of good-for-you foods that are also tasty at dining concepts across campus:

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While the amazing sandwiches are what The Exchange is known and loved for, super healthy and yummy salads are also offered on the menu – bulgar wheat kale salad, cucumber feta olive salad, and a create-your-own option. Choose to top your salad with the homemade avocado cilantro vinaigrette and you get an extra dose of mono and poly unsaturated fats, both heart healthy fats.

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Featuring exclusively vegetarian, vegan, and superfood specialties, Evgefstos offers a diverse range of cuisines from around the globe, with plant-based ingredients seasoned and prepared to take on the flavors of Asia, India, and the Mediterranean. Lunch offers steamed veggies, made-to-order flatbreads and wraps, veggie burgers, homemade hummus, fresh falafel, and more. Dinner features a build-your-own theme each night of the week, plus hot and cold sides to add to a meal. A campus favorite for more than 10 years, Evgefstos is open Monday through Friday, 11:00 am to 8:00 pm, in the Cohon Center.

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The owners and operators of The Exchange in Tepper offer a super healthy smoothie at Stephanie’s in the Mellon Institute and at the Red Oak Café in Oakland, called OTY. It’s made with oats, tea, and yogurt with antioxidant-ripe fruits and nutrient-rich whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Pictured here is the Blue Power OTY, packed with blueberries, lemon, vanilla, and hibiscus.

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Every Tuesday and Thursday at the Global Flavour station in Resnik, enjoy chef-prepared fresh, lean proteins and super food greens … grilled! Grill’n’Greens offers whole foods at their best – simply prepared and bursting with flavor and nutrition.

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Tazza D’Oro, located in the Gates Hillman Complex, serves drinks and food with ingredients that are organic and locally-sourced whenever possible. New items on Tazza’s menu include a wild mushroom panini for lunch and the following grab-and-go items: a beans and greens sandwich, hummus and veggies, kale/roasted butternut squash/goat cheese salad, Mediterranean salad, quinoa salad, chickpea salad, and bottled chocolate milk from Brunton Dairy. And check out the long list of local growers and suppliers Tazza partners with to source its ingredients:

  • Brunton Dairy
  • Kistaco Farm
  • Greenawalt Farm
  • JL Kennedy Farm
  • Garfield Farm
  • Goat Rodeo Farm
  • Stagnos Bakery
  • Enrico’s Bakery
  • Gluten Free Goat Bakery
  • Wild Purveyors
  • Greek Gourmet
  • Stover’s Company
  • B&K Farm


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The Pomegranate
, now located in Tartans Pavilion in Resnik, serves fresh-squeezed orange and grapefruit juices and is considering adding fresh-squeezed carrot juice to the menu as well.

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“Savor the flavor of eating right” at the Tartan Express food truck from March 28 through April 1 with the vegetarian special that week – kale earth ramen!

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Research shows that eating a healthy breakfast increases energy, improves concentration, enhances academic performance, and helps maintain a healthy weight. Now, you can get a breakfast burrito at El Gallo de Oro in the Cohon Center, Monday through Friday, 7:00 am to 10:30 am. If you order the block breakfast, you also get a piece of fresh fruit. A protein, beans, veggies, and fruit … sounds like a good way to start the day!

Carnegie Mellon Dining Services is curious about how you will engage with the National Nutrition Month initiative. We invite you to share your healthy eating habits by posting on this blog.

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