Meal Equiv: The Lowdown

College life is no stranger to all sorts of struggles, from adapting to sharing a space with someone else to the dreaded “Freshman 15.” However, some schools offer programs for their students to help them make the most of the college experience. The College of New Jersey strives to include all students in every aspect of campus life and dining is no exception. With the main dining occuring in The Atrium at Eickhoff Hall, TCNJ also offers an alternative for students: Meal Equivalency. 

Fondly referred to as “Meal Equiv”, it is a system that allows for some flexibility in dining options. Open to students with a Carte Blanche meal plan, students can choose to go to a number of locations on campus from 11am-1:30pm with $8.60 balance already available on their student id. The catch? You can’t enter The Atrium to eat until after 1:30pm if you already used your Meal Equiv balance somewhere. And if you go over the $8.60, you can cover the remaining total with meal plan points or other methods of payment. Meal Equiv is a great way to switch up your eating habits and get things you might not be able to typically get. Getting $10 sushi for $1.40 thanks to meal equiv? Yes please! 

Here are some of the places you can use Meal Equiv on TCNJ's campus!

Traditions

Traditions is a sit down restaurant on the main floor of TCNJ’s Brower Student Center. Formerly known as the Rathskeller, Traditions seats 110 people, its’ own stage, and a small bar that serves teas, soft drinks, and alcohol (must be 21 years old to purchase). A variety of food is served, including Fried Mac ‘N Cheese Balls, Baja Chipotle Fish Tacos, and even Traditions Burgers. Traditions is the place to eat if you are looking for a more formal dining experience or maybe have someone to impress. If sitting down to eat is something you don’t have time for, try the Traditions Express Window for all the same food, just to go! Also something to note: they do take reservations over the phone! 

Open: M-F 11am-10pm; Weekends 9am-6pm

The Lions Den

The Lions Den is a food court style dining option located on the first floor of the Brower Student Center. If you are looking for variety, this is definitely the place to be. If you don’t have time to waste, simply pick up something from the Simply to Go area, hop in the to-go line, and you’ll be on your way. If you have a bit of time, take a look at the different meal options: OBC Grill, Sub Connection, World Fusion, Pizza & Pasta Co. and York Street Market (vegan). Pizza & Pasta Co. does rotate their dishes every week. However, only the pasta shape changes and the cheese and pepperoni pizzas are there every week; only the specialty pizza changes. 

Open: M-Th 7am-8pm; F 7am-5pm

The Education Café

The Education Café is a small café on the first floor of the Education Building. Due to its location on the edge of campus, the Education Café tends to be the fastest option for sandwiches, pastries, bagels, and drinks that are made for each individual that stops by. They also have grab and go options, like salads, hummus and pretzels, yogurt, cereal, sandwiches, and baked goods as well as an assortment of soft drinks, bottled teas, and water. Hot and cold drinks are served here from lemonade ice tea to expressos, using Seattle’s Best brand coffee. Personally, The Education Café is my favorite because if you go from 1pm-1:15pm, the line is either short or there isn’t a line at all! Especially convenient for people living in Centennial Hall and ABE Hall, there’s only one thing to be wary of. There is not a lot of seating options, but you can go up to the second and third floors as there are additional arm chairs and tables up there. 

Open: M-Th 8am-7pm; F 8am-3pm

The Library Café

The Library Café is likened to the Education Café, as they serve similar food and drinks at both places. Unlike the Education Café, the Library Café has an abundance of seating and serves Starbucks beverages. If you are running low on time, be careful what times you come here. Because it is one of only a few places open on the weekends, the Library Café can get pretty crowded. During the week, there is steady traffic, usually due to the people in the main parts of the library who use it to take a break from whatever they are working on and grab something to eat or drink. Food and drinks other than water have to be eaten in the Café itself due to library policy. 

Open: M-Th 7:30am-1am; F 7:30am-11pm; Sa 10am-11pm; Su 11am-1am

The STEM Forum Café

The STEM Forum Café is very different from both the Library and Education Cafés. The STEM Forum Café is located on the first floor of the STEM complex; just look for the large floor to ceiling windows. Here you can purchase Simply-to-Go meals, sushi, Blissful Bakery baked goods, Community Coffee and teas, as well as bottled beverages, bagels, and vegan to-go meals. There is lots of seating in the STEM Café and the glass walls give great natural light for doing a bit of work in between classes. 

Open: M-F 7:30am-5:30pm

While there are other places that serve food on campus, like The 1855 Room, these five locations are the only ones that offer Meal Equiv. Each location has their own benefits and drawbacks; you just need to find the one that fits you! I’ve visited all of these places and each time found out something new about the campus I’m starting to call home.