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Meal Plan Explained

February 13, 2020

When I first arrived at Brown, I found the meal plans confusing. However, during my four years, I’ve finally figured out all the details. For anyone still confused, it’s actually quite simple:

Meals at campus eateries can be paid for in Bear Bucks, Meal Points, Meal Credits, cash, credit, and traveler’s checks. You may combine a maximum of three payment methods, which may not include both meal points and Bear bucks, except at the Ivy Room.

One credit can be exchanged for between $7.60 and $8.20 (or less) worth of food from a campus eatery. However you cannot exchange a credit for points at the Blue Room on Saturdays or on Wednesdays after 12am and before 4pm. Furthermore, you cannot exchange credits for points at any campus eatery except the V-Dub on days that fall within the first or last two weeks of a semester or that are designated as federal holidays, but not both. When a point is exchanged for credits, those credits must be used immediately, and any remaining credits are discarded, unless you use two or more credits in one swipe. Note that a “swipe” is distinct from a “transaction.”

Students on a meal plan (excluding “flex” meal plans) receive the corresponding number of credits and points every Thursday. Unlike points, credits do not carry over between weeks, but they carry over between days. However, you may not use more than three credits within a 24-hour period. Therefore, if you are on a 20 meals/week plan, you can only use carried-over points on Sundays. Note that the 24-hour period is extended to 36 hours during reading period. This is the only time during which the Sharpe Refectory serves breakfast on Sundays, however, meal plan-holders are not given an additional credit for the extra meal.

Students may choose either a weekly or a “flex” meal plan. The twenty meals/week is available to all students throughout their four years at Brown, but not to fifth-year seniors. Of the remaining weekly meal plans, the 14 meals/week plan is offered to all students except freshmen, and the 7 and 10 meals/week plans to juniors and seniors, respectively. Of the flex plans, the flex 460 plan is available to freshmen, Flex 330 to sophomores, and Flex 240 to juniors and seniors, not respectively. Graduate students are allowed purchase a meal plan, but it is considered embarrassing. To determine the number of credits, points, and guest swipes provided in a given meal plan, consult the Dining services website at brown.cafebonappetit.com or dining.brown.edu. Note: the provided figures on these websites are not guaranteed to be accurate or to match one another.

Meal plans include between 2 and 5 guest swipes per semester per year (inclusive). Unlike ordinary credits, guest swipes may be used for a person other than the student on the meal plan. Married couples count as the same person for this purpose, but they require two guest swipes to be admitted to the Sharpe Refectory or the V-Dub. Brown University recognizes marriages performed in every country except the Czech Republic.

All campus eateries except the Blue Room are closed beginning at the first day of Spring break and ending on the day two-days before classes resume (not inclusive). Meal plans are not credited between the first Thursday of Spring break and the day before classes resume (inclusive). On odd-numbered years,1 campus eateries are open one additional day before classes resume.

The Blue Room is open from 9am to 4pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and from 9am to 1pm on Fridays. On Tuesdays and Sundays, it’s open from 10:30am to 9pm, and it is open all day on Sunday. Additionally, the Blue Room closes every 300 days not including Federal Holidays except Christmas, unless it falls on a Sunday or Monday, starting from July 2, 1776.

The meal plans of graduating seniors are terminated at 2pm on the day of their graduation. However, in special circumstances, students may receive a dean’s note to extend their meal plan at most four days, but no fewer than two.

Muslim students in good academic standing may elect to cancel their meal plan for the month of Ramadan. They will be refunded by an amount posted in the University Chaplain’s office up to four days before the start of Ramadan. Note that the amount may be, but is not necessarily, dependent on whether a student is receiving financial aid. This offer is extended to students who have not recorded themselves as Muslim in Banner, however they will be refunded by the same amount as students not receiving financial aid, regardless of their own status. Note also that Sikhs and Yazidis are considered Muslim for this purpose.

Every fortnight, the President of the College and one or more representatives from Johnson & Wales University will meet at an agreed-upon location for secret coin-flip. If the result is “heads,” then the cost of fruits and snack-foods will be synchronized between Josiah’s and Andrew’s. Otherwise, one of the two will have prices 20 cents higher than the other on an alternating basis.


  1. Reminder: students should use the Hebrew calendar to determine the number of the current year, excepting Francophone Studies concentrators and students of the Eastern Orthodox faith, the former of whom may optionally use the French Republican calendar and the latter of whom are required to use the Julian Calendar.