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Frequently Asked Questions

University Dining Services

The CSU Monterey Bay Dining Services Team would like to thank you for your interest in our on-campus dining program. University Dining Services offers flexible hours, varied menus, and pleasant surroundings in four distinct and unique experiences. You can enjoy a contemporary, crowd-pleasing selection of many of your favorite foods along with some of our own tasty specialties… For all-you-care-to-eat dining, in a great social gathering spot, head to the Dining Commons. Celebrating a special event or the passing of that big test? A sit-down meal at our full-service Monte's restaurant is just the spot. Looking for something for that quick and on the go meal? Choose from an array of Ala-Carte items available at the Otter Express. In the middle of a study session or just need a quick bite to eat check out the Library Cafe featuring an array of drinks by Peet’s Coffee and Tea, as well as sandwiches and other snacks. In addition, students, clubs, and organizations can utilize Catering Services for events or functions.

FAQs about Dining On Campus

This is my first semester at CSUMB. How do I figure out which is the right meal plan for me?

Choosing the right meal plan really depends on your personal eating habits, combined with your class, work and/or activity schedule. A couple questions you can ask yourself - do you usually have 2 or 3 meals a day? Will you be going home for the weekends? Then refer to the block plans and decide which may be right for your personal needs.

My meal plan doesn't fit into my current schedule of school and/or work/activities. What are my options?

You may change your meal plan options during the first two weeks of each semester, or prior to the start of the next semester.

How does the block plan work?

Once you select a plan, you are entitled to that amount of meals each semester. Each time you enter the dining room, a swipe of your ID card will reduce the amount of meals left on your balance. Once you are in for a meal period you can eat any food offered, thus the name "All-You-Care-to–Eat."

What if I run out of meals from my block plan prior to the end of the semester?

You can purchase add-on blocks designed to supplement your existing meal plan, or you may use your Flex Dollars to eat at the Dining Commons at a discounted door price.

What if I run out of Flex Dollars?

You may purchase Otter Bucks from CSUMB. Otter Bucks work the same way as Flex Dollars and may be used at the same restaurants on campus.

I have left over meals on my block plan at the end of the semester. What happens to it?

The balance is cleared and will be reloaded with the new semester meal plan amounts. It is very important to select the right meal plan that meets your dining requirements.

What if I have Flex Dollars left at the end of the semester. What happens to my balance?

The balance that is left at the end of the fall term is carried over to the spring term. However, at the end of the spring term, all balances are cleared.

Can I take food out of the Dining Commons?

You may eat as much as you like while dining in the Dining Commons. However, upon leaving, you may take a piece of fruit or other small dessert or beverage with you. You can also pick up a to-go box at the cashier stand in lieu of eating in the dining room if you would like to take your meals to go. If you would like to "take" more than this, please make arrangements with your Food Service Manager to purchase items in bulk.

Can I use my meal blocks at any other location on campus?

Each of your meal blocks will have a cash equivalency allowing you to use your flex cash and or meal block to dine in any location on campus.

How can I learn more about what Dining Services has to offer?

Check out our website at: You will find all the information you need about what we have to offer, including our sustainability programs, nutrition information, updates on our renovations, and event calendars and so much more.

FAQs about the Meal Plan

Can I use my flex cash to pay instead of a block?

You have a choice of using any tender you desire, but it is up to you to specify which one when you approach the cashier. Flex cash may be used at any of the food service locations on campus: Dining Commons, Monte's, Otter Express, Starbucks or Library Cafe.

What is the block equivalency on a block when I spend it at another location?

The block equivalency is $5. You can spend this at any other of our dining locations. You are allowed three block equivalencies per transaction. The block equivalency may be used at the Monte's, Otter Express, Starbucks or Library Cafe.

Can I treat my friends to a meal using my blocks?

Absolutely! There is no limit on how many blocks you can use during one meal time at the Dining Commons. If you would like to treat a friend, professor, or a visiting relative, go right ahead.

Can someone else use my card?

No. To prevent someone from using a lost or stolen card, we will confiscate any cards not used by the issued owner. These will be turned over to Res-Life.

Is the cost of my meal tax exempt?

Yes it is when you use your blocks or flex cash. The price will be taxed if you use: Credit Cards or Cash.

Can I use my BSID number if I forgot my card?

For you own protection we do not allow you to use you BSID number.

FAQs about the Dining Commons

What are my options?

All menu items are made-to-order: Classics, Simple Servings, Expeditions, Grill, Vegetarian, Pizzaria, Soup Bar, Deli Bar, Salad Bar, and Taqueria. To view these platforms in detail click on our Dining Choices web-page.

Are the platforms the same?

Each platform is unique and has a daily fare and special.

How will I know what the specials are?

Specials can be found on the Dining Choices web-page. A welcome board is also posted in the entry ways of each location that will identify our daily offerings and specials. You will also find posters and signage at each station and through out the building.

How much food can I ask for?

You are welcome to prepare yourself as many plates as you can eat; however, we do ask if you want more than the portion that you are served that you wait until you have finished until returning to ask for more. Keep in mind we are counting on you to help reduce waste that goes to the landfill. In the long run, everyone comes out a winner!

Why are there no trays?

At the Dining Commons we are conscience and proactive in waste management. It is proven in all-you-care-to-eat environments more food is thrown away by those who use trays. We suggest that you select your food of choice, find a place to sit and come back in to select your beverage of choice.

Where do my dishes go?

We have a busing carousel in the right corner of the Dining Commons.

Do I get a new plate if I want more food?

Yes, feel free to get up put your used plate in the busing station and grab more food.

Are we still a sustainable dining service?

Yes we are, more than ever before! By eliminating paper goods we have cut down on our waste stream, creating a more sustainable dining service. All of our dishes are washed with recognized and certified green seal chemicals; however, when we do offer paperware for special occasions, the majority products used are spudware and corn plastics.

What are your locations and hours of operation?

Dining Locations and Hours of Operation are updated on our Dining Website or by calling (831) 582-3838

Call Us

We invite and encourage you to call us anytime with questions, comments or suggestions about our Campus Dining Program. Your feedback is always welcome as it can only help us to serve you better. Students are also encouraged to offer comments and suggestions to any staff member or manager, a group of dedicated professionals with an array of training in Food Service Management and the Culinary Arts. 

  • Dining Services (831) 582-3838 
  • Catering Services (831) 582-5029
In This Section
Important Info


If you have any questions about meal plan assignments, please contact us at (831) 582-3838.

Dietary Needs

Do you have particular dietary needs? Please let us know. Our campus dining services program can accommodate your special dietary requirements. For more information, please contact Michelle Lagana at (831) 582-5016 or

Dining Policies

One of our main goals is to provide a pleasant, clean, comfortable and satisfying dining experience. In order to meet this goal, we ask for your assistance with the following procedures:

  • Please bus your dishes and disposables from your table when you have finished dining
  • Please refrain from taking food, dishes or utensils from the dining area.
  • Remember that meal cards are non-transferable. Meal cards cannot be used by anyone but the purchaser.

Seconds Policy

You never have to be too shy to ask for seconds with our Campus Dining Program. Our generous policy allows for a second helping of many menu favorites. All you have to do is ask! Please note, however, that are a some exceptions to our Seconds Policy.

California State University Monterey Bay | Dining Services | 100 Campus Center #16 | Seaside, CA 93955 | tel. (831) 582-3838 | Contact Us