Here we go, summer is over and everyone is going (back) to university! You’ve elected the classes you’ll be taking, you know where you will be staying, but how about the food? As a future stressed out student, food will be one of your major concerns but also, one of your best friends. So how are you going to survive on campus? What do you eat? Where do you go? Should you be cooking instead? Keep reading for the ultimate guide to eating around McGill University, and we will answer all your questions!
Food at McGill
First of, I will be talking about the food quality at McGill so we can keep going with our #McGillPride. Academically ranked 24th best university in the world, McGill is actually even better than this. The students’ well-being is a primary goal here, and you can feel it through the proposed Food and Dining Services which focus on sustainability, ethical practices, and the health of its clientele.
Only local ingredients are used.
Did you know that at McGill, meals are created with fresh, local ingredients coming from the university’s Macdonald Campus Farm supporting local companies and farmers? The university also offers fair trade coffee, tea, chocolate and is the first Fair Trade Certified campus in Quebec.
McGill supports sustainable seafood as well, with MSC certified species accounting for 40% of all seafood served. Finally, the dining halls offer dishes that satisfy a wide range of diets thanks to vegan, vegetarian, and made-without-gluten offerings.
Meal Plans at McGill
No matter what, with your McGill ID, you will be able to get food at every Residential Dining Halls and the 20+ on-campus dining locations with what is called the oneCard services. That being said, let’s talk about how to choose the Meal Plan that fits you! There are two of them: the Mandatory Meal Plan and the Saver Meal Plan.
Mandatory Meal Plan
The Mandatory Residential Meal Plan applies to all students living in the following residences: Carrefour Sherbrooke, La Citadelle, New Residence Hall, Royal Victoria College, University Hall, Douglas Hall, Gardner Hall, Molson Hall, and McConnell Hall, for an amount of $5,475.
Students living in Solin Hall or MORE are not on the Mandatory Meal Plan and they have access to kitchen facilities in their residences. These students have the option of purchasing a Saver Meal Plan (we’ll talk about it later). The MMP usually helps students away from home and without access to a fully equipped kitchen. It eliminates the need to shop, prepare and clean up after meals, allowing you to focus on studying, making friends, having fun and becoming part of the McGill community.
How does your meal card work?
Your Meal Card is your McGill ID Card. The Mandatory Meal Plan is a declining balance meal plan. Just like a debit account, funds are put into a meal plan “account” and deducted when you make food purchases. In this case, your McGill Student ID Card is encoded with your meal plan information and acts as your debit card. This means that there are no pre-set number of meals allotted to each student. Instead, every food item has an individual price, and the items that you choose are totaled at the cash register and deducted from your balance.
Translation? If you choose to eat an apple instead of a full meal, all you pay for is the apple.
Do I always need to bring my actual McGill ID card when eating around McGill University?
Yes. It’s important that you bring your McGill ID card with you if you’re planning to make food purchases on your meal plan. If you don’t have it, or if it’s demagnetized or damaged, you will be asked to pay cash.
Home Base vs Flex vs oneCard Dollars
Home Base Food Dollars refer to the portion of your total meal dollars which you can use in any of the five residential dining halls. Flex Food Dollars offers students the ability to dine in the 25 Food and Dining Services locations where McGill meal plans are honoured on both campuses.
OneCard Dollars are charged at all downtown first year resident students at the beginning of the school year. OneCard dollars can be used at 20+ on-campus food locations, to do laundry in rez, to pay for food deliveries at Double Pizza and St-Hubert Express. You can upload additional oneCard dollars by logging on the oneCard website or on Minerva. Learn more here!
Taxes & Expiration?
The Mandatory Residential Meal Plans are tax-exempt, saving you almost 15% on taxes! Finally, when your contract expires, the remaining balance is automatically transferred to a rollover plan that you will be able to use the following semesters.
Saver Meal Plan
This plan can be purchased by any full or part-time student, and was designed for those who intend to eat on campus on a regular basis. The base amount to purchase this plan is $1300 per term, but this amount can be topped up at any time. The Saver Meal Plan is tax exempt, which translates to a savings of almost 15%! Any unused dollars at the end of each term can be converted in oneCard dollars!
Do not forget that even though you didn’t ask for any of these Meal Plans, a oneCard account can be added to your student ID card. It allows students to make purchases and easily access multiple services on campus, without the hassle of carrying cash or debit/credit cards. You can learn more here!
Dining Halls at McGill University
Each Residence Hall has its own unique style ambiance and food specialties. There are five of them: Bishop Mountain Dining Hall (BMH), Carrefour Sherbrooke Dining Hall (C4), Douglas Dining Hall, New Residence Dining Hall (New Rez) and Royal Victoria Dining Hall (RVC). They are all associated with Residence Halls; therefore, if you live in Residence this year, you will be spending a lot of time there. I will be talking about the 3 more important ones: BMH, New Rez and RVC. You can learn more about it here!
Bishop Mountain Dining Hall
Located at the foothills of Mount Royal, you will have the privilege to look up at nature while eating. BMH is the dining hall of what we call Upper Rez (featuring Gardner, Molson and McConnell Halls).
BMH Speciality: Shawarma!
New Residence Dining Hall
Within New Residence Hall, New Rez is the best dining hall you will be able to find on campus. It offers a great variety of choice with higher food quality. Besides that, New Rez hosts one of the amazing Premiere Moisson bakeries included on your oneCard.
New Rez Specialty: Homemade desserts and pastries.
Royal Victoria College Dining Hall
RVC Dining Hall is right next and connected to RVC Residence Hall, on campus and by the Schulich Music Department. Perfect if you don’t want to spend your Flex dollars when you are on campus, it offers a lot of choice as well.
RVC Speciality: Grilled burgers with fries.
Hint: If you’re hanging out in the evening by the end of the week, only Carrefour Sherbrook is open until midnight. Most of the dining halls usually close between 9 and 10.
Other Places to Eat Around McGill University Campus
McGill has two PM bakeries on campus; as previously said, the first and most recent one is located in New Residence Hall and the second one is just by the Redpath Library building.
This last one will probably save your life. Indeed, in periods of exams, PM holds extended opening hours so you can cram by drinking liters of at night. Besides, the freshly prepared sandwiches, pastries, salads and more are amazingly tasteful, and served by the kindest staff ever. Learn more about this here.
Quesada and Bento Sushi
Those words have already spoken enough for me, right? A place where you have the choice to buy burritos or sushis at the same time; that must be the dream.
Really popular on campus, if you come around lunch or dinner time, you may line up for a moment even though it’s totally worth it. Situated at a prime location, you will probably spend some time there.
Enjoy– but do not forget to exercise if you get a burrito per day.
Right under the Arts building, Subway will help you get to your classes on time! With the sandwich of the day offer, spend only $5 and 5 minutes for lunch. Nicely located by the tunnel entrance, you can grab food and go study at the library right after if you happen to be tired of Première Moisson (situation unlikely to occur). With a choice not limited to sandwiches, Subway is a classic, solid place to go!
Quick Coffee/Snack Stops
There are more than 20 places where you can have a coffee, a drink or food on campus with your oneCard like Second Cup, Soup Café and many more cafés in almost every McGill building. A lot more of them offer products for real money, but just as delicious (cf. SSMU building).
You can find this map here.
Overall, McGill is offering an amazing variety of choice and deserves its great reputation. You will technically always find a place to satisfy your frugal desires. Don’t be afraid, try them all! You might be surprised by the quality of the food that few universities are currently proposing.