(Orientation) Survivor’s guide to eating on campus

Cameron Gorman

Dining on campus can be varied, affordable and healthy—if you want it to be. There are plenty of options for any diet available on campus and you can make it through the year eating the way you want to, without burning through your budget.

In order to do so, however, it’s important to know what dining plan you want to purchase. A meal plan should best suit your needs. While you don’t want to run out of money midway through the semester, it’s also not good to be stuck with too much at the end.

Your meal plan rolls over after the fall semester, but at the end of the spring, any money left on it will go back to the school. With that in mind, make sure the plan you select is perfect for you.

Dining Plans

The “Lite” Plan:

The Lite Plan costs $1,820. With 16 weeks in the semester, you’ll get $113.75 per week or $16.25 a day. This plan is right for you if you’re the type of person who doesn’t eat much at meals, or only eats two a day. If you don’t snack a lot between meals, this is a better option for you than the regular plan. The Lite Plan was also developed with students who travel home on the weekends in mind. If you’re planning on visiting home frequently during the semester, it’s best to stick with this plan—otherwise you might be stuck with too much money left over at the end of the semester.

The “Basic” Plan

This plan is a good starting place for students who aren’t sure about how much money they’ll need throughout the semester. The “Basic” is $1,980, leaving you $123.75 for the week or $17.69 per day. If you eat “regularly” throughout the day—three meals and light snacks, and spend most of your weekends on campus, this plan is right for you. Like the others, this plan rolls over in the fall and reverts back to the university at the end of the spring.

The “Premier” Plan

The Premier Plan is designed for hungry students. If you eat frequently throughout the day, snack often and like to eat larger meals, this may be the best choice for you. The plan’s $2,325 will get you $145.31 per week or $20.76 per day. If you rarely leave campus, it may be a good choice to make sure you won’t run out of funds. Leftovers from the Premier Plan carry over from semester to semester, as well as from year to year, when another Premier Plan is purchased.

The “Premier Plus” Plan

This plan is the most food that your money can buy—if you’re very active, eat every meal on campus, snack throughout the day or simply eat more, the $2,735 allotted to you through the purchasing of this plan should be enough. You get $170.94 to spend per week, which equals $24.42 per day. Like the Premier Plan, your meal plan dollars will roll over at the end of both semesters, with the purchase of another Premier or Premier Plus Plan, and gives you the most amount of money to spend on dining.

Once you choose the best possible plan for your lifestyle, it’s important to choose the places you spend it carefully. Consider the food, the price and the health of what you buy—because there are lots of options.

Where to Eat

Dining locations are scattered all over campus, making it both convenient to fit meals into your schedule and, unfortunately, difficult to decide where to do so. Thankfully, wherever you end up, there’s likely to be something you’re interested in.

Eastway Center

If you live in or near Eastway, there are plenty of options available—in the downstairs market, for sandwiches or packaged foods, or in the Eastway Cafe for prepared meals. There’s a salad bar available all day, as well as an omelette bar in the morning and a stir-fry bar in the afternoon.

Tri-Towers Rotunda

Like Eastway, Tri-Towers contains a food market on its first floor. But the main attraction is Rosie’s Diner, a 24-hour spot where you can order all kinds of classic diner foods, from breakfast foods all day to fries and sandwiches.

Prentice Hall

Prentice Cafe, housed in the hall, offers breakfast foods, bakery items, and burritos by Burrito Del Ray.

Kent Student Center

The largest selection of dining choices is housed in the Student Center. The main floor features the Hub, a food court complete with Subway, Auntie Anne’s, Einstein’s Bagels, the SLICE which offers pizza, Wow Bao, Sushi with Gusto and Wholly Habaneros, which offers Mexican bowls, burritos and nachos. The lower level has a Quaker Steak and Lube with simulated sit-down restaurant service. The top level includes a cafeteria-style eatery that offers everything from pasta to Indian cuisine.

Alternatives for Special Diets

With all the dining options available on campus, it’s easy to find accommodations for special dietary needs such as veganism or gluten allergies. Kent State has been named one of PETA’s top 10 vegan friendly campuses, and offers a solution for vegan and vegetarian students. Veggie A-Go-Go is a call-ahead program offered in both Eastway and Prentice Cafe. Those wanting to order meat-free entrees can call 330-672-6229 for Eastway and 330-672-2687 for Prentice to pre-order. Those with gluten sensitivity or allergies can purchase multiple gluten-free products in the marketplaces in Eastway and Tri Towers, as well as choose from pre-prepared options at Boar’s Head delis and the Pure Station in Eastway Cafe.

Other Tips

Here are a few more important things to remember:


  1. Don’t go over budget: Use the meal plan tracker available in the KSUMobile app to keep track of your spending. A helpful chart that updates itself automatically with each purchase can help you visualize your spending.

  2. Snack smart: If you tend to snack a lot throughout the day, consider buying items from a marketplace to keep in your dorm fridge or room—you can prepare some food from a larger packet instead of making multiple smaller purchases.

  3. Remember: It rolls over. It’s okay to have some money left at the end of the fall semester, as all meal plans roll over into the spring. (The Premier and Premier Plus plans also roll over from year to year.) If, however, you find yourself left with too much money come spring, consider spending it on some packaged foods or gifts available in the Eastway market to take home.