UMass Dining is award-winning, so it's no wonder that most on-campus students don't mind getting a meal plan. Freshmen and sophomores must choose between the value plan, which gives two meal swipes per day, and the unlimited plan, which, as you may have guessed, offers an unlimited amount of swipes. Students are required to use one swipe each time they enter the dining commons, which offer all-you-can-eat food. During the week at Berkshire, one of the dining commons in the Southwest Residence Area, there is also a grab 'n' go area, where students can get a bagged lunch between classes for one swipe. There are various food-related events that Berk hosts on a regular basis (occasionally DJs are present there during evenings). There is also Late Night, which is when the dining area re-opens during the night (while other eating areas are closed). Both plans also offer a number of meal exchanges, which can be used at most of the retail restaurants on campus, and some guests swipes for when friends visit. There is also a more flexible Your Campus Meal Plan (YCMP) for upperclassmen and commuters. At the end of each semester, you won't get a refund or the chance to carry over any unused meals, so buying the most basic and inexpensive meal plan is highly advisable until you figure how what's best for you.
There are four dining commons on campus, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. One major plus is that, no matter where you live on campus, you will be within close walking distance to at least one dining commons, referred to as a "DC." Also, more than half of the non-dormitory buildings have some place to eat, even if it's just a small coffee and pastry stand. If you are a coffee drinker, almost everywhere on campus has good coffee, even the dining commons. Regardless of your tastes or how picky an eater you are, there will be some place on campus that will have food you'll like. Going hungry at UMass is not an option.