All About Choice

Leave the cooking and the dishes to the dining team. Dining plans at the University of Iowa are designed to help you select the meal plan option that best fit your schedule, budget, and lifestyle. 

A meal plan is a pre-set number of meals purchased in advance for an academic semester. At the University of Iowa, meal plans offer both market place meals and flex swipes. With your meal plan, you will be free to eat when and where you want (with some limitations), throughout the semester. A meal plan is required for all first-year students living on campus, as well as returning students not living in a room with a university-supplied kitchen. 

You will utilize these meals by presenting your Iowa One card to a cashier who will swipe it at the register. This swiping action deducts one meal from your balance and is called a meal swipe. The two types of swipes offered in our meal plans are market place meals and flex swipes. Most students will use the majority of their swipes in the market places, where they accept both meal and flex swipes. We also have retail locations available to you, should those be more convenient for your schedule.

Check Your Meal Plan Balance

Market Place Meals

Market place meals are available at our all-you-care-to-eat market places: Burge Market Place, Catlett Market Place, and Hillcrest Market Place. The Gold and Black meal plans offer meal swipes for use exclusively in market place locations. Market place meals will draw from the number of market place swipes provided in your Gold or Black meal plan. Once you run out of market place swipes, flex swipes will be used automatically.

Flex Swipes

A flex swipe offers you the ability to use a meal swipe at one of our seven on-campus retail locations or at market places once you have used all of your market place swipes. If you purchased the Black or Gold meal plan, you automatically have 75 Flex swipes included. We take flex swipes in select dining locations.

Every meal plan contains 75 flex swipes for use in market place and eight retail locations across campus: River Room Café, Street Hawk Food TruckUnion StationFood for Thought Café, Grand Avenue Market, Pat’s Diner, Mayflower Market, and Clinton Street Market. In retail locations, a swipe can be used to purchase a meal composed of one entrée, two sides, and a drink.

Please note: Flex swipes cannot be used as guest meals in the market places.

Meal Plan Selection

Students will have the option of selecting their meal plan for the upcoming school year during the room selection process. All students living in the residence halls are required to have either the Gold or Black Meal Plan. Students assigned to a room with a university supplied kitchen will have an additional meal plan option, the Hawkeye Meal Plan.

Students who do not select a meal plan will automatically be enrolled in the Gold plan.


Meal Plan Changes

Students are able to adjust their meal plans within the first 2 weeks of each semester. If you have a Black Meal Plan for the fall semester and found yourself short of meals mid-semester, we’d recommend adjusting your meal plan for the spring semester to the Gold Meal Plan. 

Students wishing to make changes to their meal plan, can find more information here

Unused Meal Swipes

Any unused meal swipes are no longer available once the semester ends as we do not roll them over. If you feel you’re not using your guest swipes, you can donate them to other hungry Hawkeyes on campus by visiting 


We know that convenience and sustainability matter. That is why our team developed the Market2Go program where you can take your meals to-go. Market2Go is a program included in your meal plan, that allows you the convenience of taking your market place meal to your room or to your next class, while working to reduce waste. 

You can use your meal swipe either to dine-in or to use Market2Go. Grab your Market2Go container (or carabiner), use your meal swipe, then select your meal items and take your food out into the world!



How does the program work?

The Market2Go program is only valid in Burge, Catlett, or Hillcrest Market Places. Students with a university meal plan receive one green, reusable container included as part of your meal plan.  If you lose your container, you will need to purchase another to continue using Market2Go. Additional containers are available for sale for $5 at all market places. 

You will follow these steps to use your container:  

  1. Your Iowa One card has a virtual token that you will redeem at any market place for a Market2Go box to use, or a carabiner clip to redeem for a Market2Go box at a later meal time. 
  2. If it's your first time taking your meal to-go, give your carabiner to the market place cashier and tell them you would like a to-go meal. They will provide you a reusable container and disposable cup to fill.  If you have a previously used container instead of your carabiner, make sure the cashier knows you are returning it so they issue you a new container and cup.
  3. Select your meal items and fill your container. The lid on your filled container must be able to close and snap shut. Disposable cups for soup will be available upon request at each soup station and those do not have to fit inside the to-go container. 
  4. Take your container to-go to consume outside of the market place. You will not be allowed to remain in the market place to eat your meal.
  5. Return your used container in a timely manner to the market place, wiped out and free from food particles. Make sure you check in with the cashier to obtain either a clean container or a carabiner in exchange for the container you returned. 
  6. Keep the carabiner handy. The next time you enter the market place and want a meal to go, we will trade you a clean Market2Go container for your carabiner.  
How do I obtain a new container if my current one is dirty?

To obtain a new container, you will follow these steps:  

  1. Once you finish your to-go meal, be sure to wipe out the container so it's free from food particles. Bring your empty container to any market place in a timely manner.
  2. Hand your old container to staff at the cashier stand.   
  3. Our staff will hand you a clean container for you to use; OR
  4. If you don’t want to take your meal to-go at this point, we will give you a carabiner.  
  5. The next time you chose to take your meal to go, you can exchange your carabiner for a clean container.  
  6. If you do not have a container to return or a carabiner to give to us, you will be charged $5 for a replacement container. 
Where can I use my Market2Go container?

Market2Go containers are only valid in our three market places: Burge, Catlett, and Hillcrest. Market2Go containers cannot be used at retail locations or the Street Hawk Food truck. 

What happens if I lose my container?

While your first container is provided free-of-charge, any replacement or additional containers will need to be purchased at a market place register. Each container costs $5.00. 

What is included in a Market2Go container?

Market2Go containers can typically hold an entrée, 2-3 sides, and a dessert or whichever food items you want to fill your container with. Your filled container must be able to close and latch. Disposable cups for soup will be available upon request at each soup station. Soup containers do not need to fit inside the to-go containers. As part of your to-go meal, you also receive a disposable cup for the beverage of your choice. 

How often can I use my Market2Go container?

You can use the container as often as your meal plan allows.

Can I share my container with a friend?

No. This container is meant for your convenience.

Market2Go for UI Faculty and Staff

The Market2Go program is open to any faculty and/or staff at the University of Iowa. UI faculty and/or staff can visit any market place cashier station to get their first container. 

In order to use your container, you will need to follow these steps:

  1. Visit any market place cashier stand and tell the staff member you want to participate in the Market2Go program.
  2. You will be handed a clean green container. This container will cost $5.00 for UI faculty and staff. This is a one-time fee for the container.
  3. Select your meal items and fill your container.    
  4. Take your container to-go to consume outside of the market place. You will not be allowed to remain in the market place to eat your meal. The lid on your container must close and snap shut.  
  5. Return your used container in a timely manner to the market place in order to obtain either a clean container or a carabiner. Please empty and rinse your container once your food is consumed. Additionally, you must use the carabiner given to you, which is a green carabiner with a white Iowa lock up.
  6. Keep the carabiner handy. The next time you enter the market place and want a meal to go, we will trade you a clean Market2Go container for your carabiner.
  7. When you come back to a market place again, you will fill your food items in the container.
  8. Please note: You will still need to pay the walk-in rate in order to eat in the market places using your Market2Go container.    
Guest Meals and Walk-In Pricing

All Gold and Black meal plans include eight (8) additional guest meals per semester. You can use these meals to treat a friend in either Burge, Catlett, or Hillcrest Market Places. Unused guest meals expire at the end of each semester.

For those customers without a meal plan contract, Burge, Catlett, and Hillcrest Market Places accept the following forms of tender: UI Charge, Hawkeye Dollars, Visa, Mastercard, and Discover.

  • Breakfast: $8
  • Lunch & Dinner: $12
Market Place Meal Tickets

University affiliates (UI conference/camp staff, UI staff or UI students working for a department or student organization) are eligible to purchase market place meal tickets using a university (MFK). When placing the order, enter the MFK and an accounting entry will be automatically made. In the system, MFKs and ticket orders can be named or identified by a specific event, camp, or conference name so they can be reused at a later date. Meal ticket costs are $8.00 for breakfast and $12 for lunch and dinner.

Order Market Place Meal Tickets (UI Affiliates Only)

Market Place Ticket Details

Meal tickets should be ordered at least three (3) business days in advance. The person placing the order will be contacted by email when the meal tickets are available for pick up (in person).  Meal tickets cannot be sent through campus mail as they are negotiable. Tickets may be picked up at the University Housing and Dining administrative office at 4141 Burge, from 8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Guests should present the ticket before entering the market place.

Any unused meal tickets can be turned back into University Housing and Dining, 4141 Burge, for credit up until 5:00 p.m., of the date noted for return on the form. When returning tickets for credit, include the form provided with the tickets. Please list number of tickets being returned for each meal (e.g. 10 breakfast) and indicate the MFK to be credited on the return form. This information is required to receive a credit.

Retail meal tickets may be purchased by selecting the preferred retail operation under Where to Eat, and ordering retail tickets from that page.

Off Campus Meal Plans

Just because you live off campus doesn't mean you shouldn't have access to quality food. No matter your lifestyle, University Housing and Dining has options for you. Students living off campus can purchase meal plans. Meal plans not only give you swipe access to our three market places, but also the select eight retail and cafe locations on campus that offer flex swipes. Convenience, variety, safety, and quality. All available in budget-friendly meal plan options. 

Purchase a meal plan


How To Use Your Meal Plan

Learn more about using your meal plan by viewing the video (at left). Click the blue "Play" button to start.