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FAQ's About Panther Dining


Dining Center

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Meal Plan

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General Information



FAQ's About Panther Dining


To purchase or find out more information about dining dollars, click here.


1. Do you have limited funds or do you have difficulty balancing your budget?
If so, you may wish to purchase a meal plan with a large number of meal swipes. While this decision may seem contrary to your situation, it may save you from undue hunger during the later part of the semester/academic year. Paying for a larger meal plan at the beginning of the semester/academic year may increase your ability to eat on a regular basis when lost funds and rapidly used Dining Dollars have all disappeared.

2. Do you often skip breakfast or plan on leaving campus on the weekends?
If this best describes you a moderate plan may better suit your needs.

3. Are you a big eater?
The meal plans with a larger set of Meal Swipes are better suited for big eaters.

4. Do you like to snack?
With the addition of Dining Dollars to the Panther Plus Meal Plans, students now have the ability to purchase a 'la carte items at Thomas Marketplace Convenience Center, Food Court or Java B & B. If you consider yourself a snacker, a meal plan with a larger amount of Dining Dollars may be your best bet.

5. What are Meals Per Week?
Meals Per Week, or board meals, are served in the Residential Dining Centers. Unused meals do not accumulate nor are they reimbursed. They are reset on Monday mornings.

6. What are Bonus Meals?
Bonus Meals, like Meals Per Week, are board meals served in the residential dining centers. They may be used as extra meals, and are good for the semester in which they are provided. Unused meals do not accumulate nor are they reimbursed.

7. What are Dining Dollars?
Students receive Dining Dollars upon purchasing a meal plan and additional Dining Dollars may be purchased. You may use Dining Dollars to purchase meals/items in any of the three Panther Dining Centers, Thomas Marketplace Convenience Center, Panther Pantry, Food Court, and Java B & B. Dining Dollars are good for the entire academic year, provide a 20% discount off the cash/guest meal price in the dining centers.

The minimum Dining Dollar purchase is only $50.00, payable by money order or personal check. If you are an Eastern employee or student, you may charge your Dining Dollars to your EIU account. You may order Dining Dollar gift cards with a credit card by visiting the Gift Basket section of the website, or by stopping by the Office of University Housing & Dining Services. (Dining Dollar gift cards work like a debit card in the Food Court, Thomas Marketplace Convenience Center, and Dining Centers. They cannot be added to your Panther Card.)

8. What happens if I do not use all of my meals for the week?
Unused meals do not roll over from each week. For this reason it is advised that you get the best possible meal plan to suit your needs. It is suggested that you try to use all of your meal swipes each week in order to get the most out of your meal plan.

9. How many meal swipes can I use per day?
Students may use their meal swipes every two hours. This means that if you swipe your card at 8:00, the next time you can use a meal swipe is 10:01 am.

10. Can I let someone else use my ID to use the meals I will not be eating?
For security purposes, the University does not allow anyone besides the card holder (the person pictured on the card) to use a panther card. Each of the dining centers will check that you are the person pictured on the card, thus you may not give the card to your friends to use without you present.

11. How can I check the balances of my dining account?
In order to check the balance on your card, go to any of the check stands in the dining centers, food court, or markets. Simply ask the checker to swipe the card and tell you the remaining balance. You may check the number of meals that you have left each week, as well as how many dining dollars that you have for the semester. Also, you may come into the dining services office, in the lower level of the Martin Luther King Jr. Union, and we would be happy to check your balances on the card.

12. Can Meal Plans be changed?
Yes you may change your meal plan; the directions to do so are as follows:

  1. To Increase a Meal Plan: A student's meal plan can be increased at any time by filling out the proper form at the front desk of the Office of University Housing and Dining Services.
  2. To Decrease a Meal Plan: Meal Plans can be decreased no later than the Friday following the first class day of each semester by filling out the proper form at the front desk of the Office of University Housing and Dining Services.

13. I live off campus and want to get a regular meal plan. What do I need to do and how much will it cost?
We offer a variety of meal plans that are available to off-campus students. If you are going to be eating in the dining halls then you should check out the meal plan options. However, if you will be using your card in places other than the dining centers than it may be best to just purchase dining dollars. In order to check out the options for off-campus students, click here or call 217-581-5733 for more information.

14. I have special diet/food concerns. Who can I discuss this with?
If you have a medical condition or special dietary needs please call 581-5733 for assistance.

15. Is there a take out option and how does it work?
Three of the dining centers (Taylor, Thomas, and Tower) allow students to take meals to-go Monday (breakfast) through Friday (lunch). An exception to this policy is the Tower Deli which offers to-go meals every day of the week. In order to get your meal to go at each of the dining centers (except Tower Deli) simply tell the checker that you would like your meal to-go when they swipe your card.

16. Can a guest dine with me?
Students are allowed to bring guests to dine with them in the dining centers. There are a few different ways in which the guest can pay for the meal: a student may use a bonus meal swipe, a student may use dining dollars, or the meal can be paid for in cash. To see meal prices for guests, click here.

17. What if I run out of Meals in the middle of the week?
If you run out of meals during the week there are a few options available to you. 1) Each meal plan comes with a certain number of bonus meal swipes per semester. These bonus swipes can be used if you run out of meals during a week. 2) Students can use their dining dollars to purchase meals at the dining centers. 3) Students may also pay cash for their meal at each of the dining centers.
Note: If you continuously run out of meals before the end of each week, then you may want to increase your meal plan (see Question 10), which can be done at any point in the semester.

18. What if I lose my Student ID?
If you have lost your panther ID, you can get a new one from the Panther Card Office in the Student Services Building. After you replace your ID you must come to the Housing and Dining Services Office in the MLK Jr. Union Lower Level to have your meal plan put on the new card before being able to use it to purchase meals. Your old card will no longer work with your meal plan.

19. Can I dine at an on campus facility if I don't have a meal plan?
All students, faculty, or visitors are welcome to dine at any of the dining centers on campus. You can simply tell the checker that you will be paying with cash or dining dollars when you enter the dining center. For meal prices, click here.

20. Where can I eat with my meal plan and how do I get in?
Students can use their meals at any of the three dining centers on campus. You may use Dining Dollars in the Food Court, Java B&B, or the Thomas Marketplace Convenience Center. Most of the dining centers (except Tower Deli) will have you swipe your card as you enter the dining center before getting your food.

21. When does a new week start with my meal swipes?
Your meal swipes reset each Monday morning, thus a week goes Monday through Sunday.

22. If I live in a residence hall with a dining center, do I have to eat there?
All students who have either a meal plan or dining dollars are eligible to eat at any dining center.

23. I'm a vegetarian, what options do I have at on-campus dining?
Panther Dining tries to provide a variety of foods for every eating style including vegetarians. We are always trying to improve these options and greatly value any input from students about things they would like to see. All of the dining centers have either a salad bar with a variety of vegetables, legumes and fruits available at lunch and dinner or several salad choices.

24. I have food allergies. What are my dining options?
If you are concerned about having an allergic reaction to food in the Dining Centers, see the Unit Director and they can help you decide which foods are safe to eat.

25. I want to work for Dining Services. Where can I apply?
There are many opportunities for employment throughout Panther Dining from Stevo Tower Reservation Dining, dish room, wait staff, to office assistants, to supervisors. There are more than 400 student employees throughout Panther Dining. Our students may work during the summer months for Camps and Conferences and other special visitors if they choose to do so. Follow this link to fill out an application.

26. Can I add dining dollars to my meal plan?
Yes you can! Meal plans come with Dining Dollars, but you can always add more. Also, you do not need to purchase a meal plan to get Dining Dollars. You can add them separately. Bring your Panther Card into the Housing and Dining Services Office in the MLK Jr. Union Lower Level to add them to your account. We accept checks or you may bill your student account.