‘Variety of meal options’: Dining with a meal plan at Pitt

By Pamela Smith, Contributing Editor

Andrew Klepeis, a rising junior politics and philosophy major, said it’s important for students to familiarize themselves with meal planning options at Pitt to get the most out of a meal plan.

“Know every place you can use your dining dollars and meal exchanges,” Klepeis said. “That way you don’t let anything go to waste.”

Pitt offers a range of dining options, both on and off campus, through Pitt Eats meal memberships. Depending on the plan, meal memberships grant students access to the dining halls, meal swaps, dining dollars and flex swaps. First-year students living in on-campus residences are required to purchase an unlimited membership. 

The Eatery at the Towers and The Perch at Sutherland are all-you-can-eat, on-campus dining facilities. Students with unlimited memberships get unlimited access to these dining locations. 

Abbie Calvert, a rising junior neuroscience major, said one of her favorite places to eat on campus is The Perch.

“I really enjoy The Perch for its convenience living on upper campus,” Calvert said. “Although it offers less variety [than The Eatery], the Perch has high quality food and some steady options.”

Meal swaps allow students to get food from on-campus restaurants once a day with the Unlimited Membership. Formerly called “meal exchanges,” meal swaps allow students to choose a combination of approved food items with a value of up to $10. 

Calvert also said variety is “important” when using meal swaps.

“I’d say it’s important to get a good variety using your meal exchanges,” Calvert said. “That really helped me to not get too bored with dining options.”

Klepeis also said variety is important, and added that students should find dining locations close to their classes.

“I would usually [use] my meal exchange at the Cathedral Café or the Union, they were close to where I would have class and the food was consistent but varied enough that it didn’t feel boring going there multiple times a week,” Klepeis said. “In particular, I was a big fan of The Roost and True Burger.“

Students can order ahead from on-campus restaurants using the TransAct mobile app or using kiosks at the Cathedral Café, Schenley Café, Petersen Events Center food court and Einstein’s at Posvar Hall. Students can connect their Panther Card to the TransAct mobile app to pay with meal swaps, panther funds and dining dollars.

All on-campus dining locations accept dining dollars for purchasing food. Using dining dollars at on-campus locations provides a 10% discount on food purchased. 25% of a student’s total dining dollars are allocated to use at off-campus restaurants near Pitt’s campus, such as CHiKN, Stack’d and Pamela’s.

A Pitt Eats representative said dining dollars provide students with “a variety of meal options.”

“There are many locations in the surrounding area with a variety of meal options that accept Dining Dollars — including the Giant Eagle grocery store off Center Avenue,” the representative said. “Dining dollars can also be used on-campus and at any of the Markets, including Forbes Street Market.”

Pitt Eats also provides services for students who have dietary restrictions, such as food allergies and intolerances, as well as students who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet. Students can connect with a campus dietitian at [email protected] to develop a plan that fits their needs. Daily menus for on-campus dining facilities, including nutritional facts, ingredients and serving sizes are also available on the Pitt Eats website and Dine on Campus app

The Pitt Eats representative said their goal is to “meet the needs of all students” through a variety of different dining options.

“Dining is an important part of campus life, and we want all students to have a dining experience that fuels and revitalizes them,” Pitt Eats said. “Our goal is to meet the needs of all students with a diverse, food-forward approach and ensure they have the tools to enjoy our dining locations with confidence — ensuring everyone feels welcomed, included and satisfied.”

For any students who may be experiencing food insecurity, The Pitt Pantry, located in Bellefield Presbyterian Church, provides inclusive food options. Students can fill out an online form to pick up food or pantry appointments. The Pitt Pantry accepts donations at the Thackeray Avenue side porch of the Bellefield Presbyterian Church during distribution hours.