Campus meal options decoded

Adrienne Burch

Campus dining service programs Bama Cash and Dining Dollars are widely used across campus for meals and late-night study snacks, but they can also be a source of confusion for freshmen and upperclassmen alike.

Some students may confuse the programs or the venues that accept each, but understanding how these two programs work is important so that students can learn how to best use them for their benefit.

Undergraduate students enrolled in nine or more hours are part of the Dining Dollars program. A fee of $300 is automatically charged to their student account for their fall and spring semesters.

This equates to $17.65 per week or $2.52 per day available for students to use.

“Dining Dollars are intended to support on-campus dining needs,” said Kristin Hopton- Jones, director of university dining services. “And [they] provide a variety of options conveniently located around campus to promote community.”

Dining dollars can be used at all Bama Dining locations on campus. This includes restaurants in the Ferguson Center and Lloyd Hall, vending machines and dining halls. The Buffalo Phils on the Strip and Dominos accept Dining Dollars.

Businesses that are part of the Dining Dollars programs are contracted through ARAMARK food services, not UA, Hopton-Jones said.

“I like the system overall because my freshman year there were late nights that I would stay up studying, and it was easy for me to call Dominos,” Chassidy Cook, a sophomore majoring Atheletic Training, said. “I could use dining dollars instead of having to pay out of my pocket.”

In order to be considered exempt from the Dining Dollars program a student must be married or head of their household, Hopton-Jones said. Head of household is defined as an individual who actually supports and maintains one or more individuals in one household.

The exemption form can be found on the Bama Dining website and support documentation must be provided with the form.

Unused Dining Dollars roll over to Bama Cash at the end of each semester. However, if students do not want their dining dollars to roll over to the Bama Cash system, they may request a refund of their dining dollars at the end of the spring semester.

The funds will be credited to their student account under student receivables, said Hopton-Jones.

Cook said she wishes she had known about this refund system earlier in her career at UA. She said she may have been more conscientious when spending her Dining Dollars.

The request form can be found on the Bama Dining website and must be taken to the Bama Dining Office in Lakeside dining after April 15 in the spring.

Bama Cash is the UA dining currency program that functions similar to a debit card. Unlike the dining dollars program, students are able to add funds to their Bama Cash account. Then they are able to use them at over 75 off-campus locations across Tuscaloosa.

“Bama Cash was created because community business owners wished to participate in a UA debit program,” Cathy Andreen, UA spokeswoman, said.

Andreen said businesses have to apply to become Bama Cash vendors.

Bama Cash is also the currency system used for copies and printing as well as for laundry services across campus.