There is only one real dining hall on campus: Sharples. The problem with Sharples is that the food there is mediocre, or at least that’s what the general student population says. Students can also use their meal plan at Essie Mae’s Snack Bar, but sandwiches and curly fries can get really old really quick. So, for hungry Swatties, Sharples is the most frequent choice. There is an enormous salad bar, a vegetarian bar, a grill, a hot dinner bar, a specialty bar, and a sandwich bar. The dining services employees make a real effort to cater to student’s wishes. There is a wide selection of vegetarian and vegan options for the plant-eaters, as well as heaping portions of beef for carnivores.
There are three meal plans options at Swarthmore. The first is the 20 Meal Plan, which lets students get breakfast, lunch, and dinner at Sharples Monday through Saturday and two meals on Sundays. There are no meal points—credits on your meal card that serve as cash at the coffee bars and Essie Mae's—with this plan. There are also the 17- or 14-meal plans, who do give students credit on their meal cards. First-semester freshmen get the 17-meal plan as their default, but they can change it prior to coming to Swat. It’s suggested to use the first semester to observe your eating habits to determine the right plan for you for following semesters. Swarthmore also caters well to caffeine-dependent students. The College has three coffee bars, and with around 1,400 students, that’s a coffee bar for about every 450 students, which is not too shabby. The coffee and selection at the Kohlberg and Science Center coffee bars are excellent. Even though the prices can be steep in the coffee bars, you can use your meal points as cash. Take that, Starbucks!