Unlike what I used to believe, eating is actually very important, and there are numerous places to do so on Indiana State University’s campus. However, if you eat at the same location too often, you will inevitably tire of the menu, as I did after eating almost every meal in the dining halls during my first semester. 

I eventually realized there are many other options on campus that accept Meal Swipes and offer different menus. There are also several off-campus eating options that are close by, high quality, and relatively cheap. 

It is important to understand the economy of on-campus meals. Depending on your meal plan, you will receive a certain number of meal swipes that may be used in the dining hall. You will also receive a certain amount of Commons Cash, which may be used at the restaurants in the HMSU Commons and at any of other Sodexo-run locations across campus. 

Something I feel I should point out is if you find you rarely use meal swipes but make extensive use of Commons Cash, it is possible to transfer credits between the two. This can be done at any time during the semester at the Sodexo Office on campus. You can also add money to your Commons Cash account at any time.

It is important to remember that Sodexo runs most but not all on-campus food locations. Only Sodexo-run locations accept meal swipes. For example, George’s and Starbucks do not accept meal swipes. Also some restaurants only accept meal swipes on the weekends or during the week if you have earned over a certain number of credit hours.

If you have a Commuter Meal Plan, Non-flex 10 Meal Plan, or are a student athlete, you may use your meal swipes at all Sodexo’s locations. What is available to you will differ depending upon the location, but it is worth looking into.

There are many Sodexo locations on campus and many have their own sort of specialty. 

Sycamore and Lincoln dining halls are great for quantity if you have missed a meal and need to fill up, but in all honesty, the quality is lacking. However, in the words of NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” charac Ron Swanson, “Buffets. Whenever available, choose quantity over quality.” 

If you need a late night option, the Campus Cupboard, a convenience store in HMSU is open until midnight.  However, a full meal may not be worth paying for if Commons Cash or meal swipes are not available, as prices are somewhat inflated.

HMSU Commons also offers Burger King, Taco Bell, Einstein Bros. Bagels, George’s, Krispy Krunchy Chicken, Oodles Noodles & More, Pizza Hut, SubConnection, and Sycamore Snack Shack.

Personally, my favorite on-campus location is Cup and Chaucer located in the Cunningham Memorial Library. I say this because it has the best range of food options on campus. They have soup, a variety of sandwiches, paninis, and quesadillas, as well as coffee, bagels, donuts, and muffins..

The Daily Grind Coffee Shop is in Stalker Hall; Executive Café is in the basement of Federal Hall; and  University Hall has Jazzman’s Café and Bakery. Generations, located in HMSU operates as a restaurant and banquet facility.  Although not open consistently, for those occasions when it is, a higher level of class is required. 

Barnes and Noble Bookstore also has its own Starbucks, which is never as busy as the one in the HMSU if the lines are too long. The bookstore location only accepts Barnes and Noble gift cards, while the HMSU location accepts Starbucks gift cards and Commons Cash. 

There are also many great off-campus food options besides the regular fast food choices like McDonald’s, Denny’s, Hardees, etc. Some of which, like Hardees, offer student discounts. However, my favorites would be Taco and Tequilas on Wabash for their amazing tacos. Make sure you get their beef tongue on corn tortilla—a street taco, which is amazing. Cackleberries  on Seventh Street is also a great option for early morning to early afternoon with classic diner food. 

To ensure that you don’t’ run out of meal swipes, Commons Cash or real cash, make sure you fit in events that offer free food. There are many of them, which go a long way toward keeping yourself fed.

When you eat in a Dining Hall create your own concoctions as I did or  maybe make a few meals yourself. It is possible to check out pots and pans from the front desk at almost every residence hall which offer kitchenettes, where you can make some of your favorite recipes.

Be sure to constantly mix things up and keep your eating options interesting because eating really matters and it should be an enjoyable experience even in college.