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Housing Dining Hospitality

Frequently Asked Questions about HDH

Updated: Nov 7, 2018

Have questions about HDH? We’re happy to help.

What is the Dining Plan / Dining Dollars?

The Dining Plan is a component of the residential Housing Contract. Dining Dollars are linked to the student’s campus ID card, and can be used in all HDH Dining Services restaurants and markets. Each purchase is automatically deducted from the account balance- like a bank debit card. There are a variety of Dining Plans to choose from, designed to be flexible and low cost. For more detailed questions regarding the use of Dining Dollars, please visit the Dining Services FAQ page.

Why is the Dining Plan required?

Dining Plans are required with a Housing contract to engage students in an on-campus experience, promote socialization of residents, and assist with academic success. The transition from home to college is a time of incredible change for students, including new roommates, environments, academic rigors, and inherent stress. The inclusion of a Dining Plan with a Housing contract relates to the overall goal of student success, by providing students with the ease of accessibility to food.

The Dining Plan also provides the financial capability for Dining Services to support each of the residential neighborhoods with conveniently located Dining facilities offering a range of available hours (7am – 1am).

What are my Dining options on campus?

The Dining team has been hard at work over the summer, researching, reviewing, and developing new recipes and menu offerings. See what’s new!

Understanding that there are a wide-variety of dietary needs, lifestyles, and personal desires when it comes to food choices, we work to ensure that our residents can find what they need at residential Dining restaurants and markets located across campus. To find a location near you, visit our menus and hours page.

Do you offer vegetarian / vegan / organic options?

This year, we have included more options for vegetarian and vegan items across all of Dining Services, modified pricing for vegetarian options, and expanded salad bars and deli options- look for the vegetarian and vegan icons on the menus and hours page.

Roots Restaurant offers vegan, vegetarian, and plant-forward menu items.

Vegetarian and vegan brands sold at the markets include Boca, Amy’s, Tofutti, Field Roast, Vegenaise, Bobo’s, Nature’s Path, Vegan Rob’s, Crofter’s and Lundberg.

Organic brands sold at the markets include: Earthbound Farms, Amy’s, Annie Chuns, Organic Valley, Horizon, Dave’s Killer Bread, Rudi’s, Justin’s, Cascadian Farms, Nature’s Path, Surf Sweets, and more.

Where can I find kosher and halal foods?

There is a glatt-certified kosher station at Spice at OceanView restaurant.

All proteins are halal-certified at 3rd kitchen at OceanView (Scholar’s Pizza, Sliceria and 40/40/20 Salad).

All of OceanView is pork-free.

Kosher and halal brands sold at the markets include: Saffron Road, Chocolove, Clif Bars, Amy’s, Justin’s, Kitchen & Love, Tasty Bite, De Lallo, and Late July snacks.

How does HDH encourage and promote healthy living?

HDH offers a wellness program to all residents, including FREE access to a Registered Dietitian who can give dietary advice and customize an eating plan. Students with severe food allergies should first register with OSD, then meet with our Registered Dietitian and Executive Chef; meal preparation then occurs in an allergen-free zone at residential Dining facilities. For more information, visit the wellness section of our website or email hdhdietitan@ucsd.edu.

This year, we have expanded our wellness criteria. Please visit our menus page and look for items labeled with the wellness icon for healthy menu suggestions from our Registered Dietitian.

Made-to-order residential Dining locations make low carb selections easier to order—just ask for double protein, make it a bowl instead of a burrito, go bun-less at the grill, etc.

Gluten-free brands sold at markets include: Saffron Road, Evol, Amy’s, Eat Pastry, Endangered Species, Quest Bar, Artic Zero, King Arthur Flour, De Lallo, Enjoy life, Kashi, Milton’s, and Pamela’s. 

Where does my food come from?

We are proud to partner with local and sustainable vendors. 19 percent of our total purchases meet sustainability guidelines within the following categories: California locally raised, handled and distributed; USDA organic; Fair Trade certified; cage-free or pasture raised; humane raised; seafood from Monterey Bay Aquarium good or best categories; and locally grown. 38 percent of our produce purchasing is from locally grown sources within 250 miles of campus. For detailed information please visit our “where your food comes from” page.

How are menus created / market products chosen?

We welcome suggestions for market products and restaurant menus. Availability of products is an influencing factor; however, we have had great success with bringing in new options based on student suggestions. E-mail DiningEngagement@ucsd.edu with your suggestion.

What if I can’t find what I’m looking for?

Need something? Say something! We encourage students to talk to a manager if there are items they have seen at one of our markets that isn’t available at their community market, or if they are interested in an item that HDH does not currently carry. Selections may be limited due to space constraints at some markets, but we will work to ensure these products (or something comparable) are added. In addition, all managers’ emails are listed on the Dining website by location.

Students are also encouraged to join a focus group. HDH conducts student focus groups to discuss what items they would like to see at their community market and Dining locations. Dining focus groups are also held for input on menus and remodeling (i.e Canyon Vista focus groups in Spring 2018 for upcoming remodel). If you’re interested in joining a focus group, please email DiningEngagement@ucsd.edu.

How is price determined?

HDH Dining Services operates as a break-even operation. The cost of food and the expense associated with food preparation are the primary factors that determine price. Please see the expense breakdowns to better understand the contributing expenses that impact pricing.

Dining Total Operating Expenses:



Market Operating Expense Breakdown:



Restaurant Operating Expense Breakdown:



We work to keep the cost of food low through close partnership with our professional purchasing team and negotiated contracts with our vendors. This yields University of California and California State University wide contracts with associated benefits for price stabilization year to year.

UC San Diego is proud to pay a living wage, provide robust benefits, support a union environment and employ students with competitive wages. Menu preparation, style of service, and volume all affect the cost associated with food preparation and the services provided.

In the restaurants, made-to-order cuisine allows for reduced waste and fresher offerings, all of which assist with keeping costs low.

The pricing in our markets is also determined with the model of food costs and associated labor expense. In markets, the food products require little preparation expense but have a food cost that is higher as a finished product. We work strategically with our contracted vendors to yield the best possible pricing; however, the volume of purchasing reduces our ability to receive goods at equivalent costs to grocery stores. Our market buying power is equivalent is to that of convenience stores, even when contracts are negotiated in conjunction with other universities.

Understanding that accessibility to core items is key, we identify items that are basic needs items such as milk, bread, and eggs. These items are available at or below cost to ensure accessibility and affordability. We also with our vendors to purchase goods that have been put on special. These monthly deals are passed on as savings directly to our guests. Look for our "Everyday Low Price" items with blue tags and our monthly specials with yellow tags in our markets. 

Why do certain medications cost so much?

We are happy to share that we will be adding a variety of medications (Advil, Tylenol, Benadryl, Claritin, Midol, and Visene) to our Everyday Value item list, along with a few other staple personal items, such as feminine hygiene products. Please note that we experience high costs on medications from our vendors, but we are responding to the need for them and will make these core items available at the lowest cost possible. 

What are some of Dining’s sustainability efforts?

Dining Services has sourced paper straws, new recyclable ware, and reusable chopsticks. We are making changes in service to feature reusable ware wherever possible, including 64 Degrees bussing stations, disposable utensils by request only, straws by request only, and reusable ware at salad bars. New build plans in North Torrey Pines Living Learning Neighborhood include reusable ware and ware wash capabilities. Additionally, the Dining team has refined all single-use options to ensure that all products may be recycled within our single-stream recycling process, thus ensuring our commitment to reduced waste.

Do I have to live on campus?

Incoming students are not required to live on-campus. Housing is optional at UC San Diego. Approximately 94 percent of incoming freshman apply to live on campus and 61 percent of incoming transfers apply to live on campus. For those that do apply, they are guaranteed two years of Housing if they meet all Admissions and Housing deadlines.

What are my Housing options at UC San Diego?

HDH houses over 11,000 undergraduate students in our six (6) Colleges and The Village. 1 percent of our undergraduate residents live in our HDH Communities for grad and family Housing.

Each college community Housing area has residence halls and apartments. The Village community only has apartments. We offer single, double, triple room types at all undergraduate facilities.

41 percent of undergraduate students enrolled at UC San Diego are housed on campus.

85 percent of our incoming freshman are in triple rooms while 45 percent of our incoming transfer students are in triple rooms at the Village.

All communities have live-in professional staff, including the RA/HA (Resident Advisor/Housing Advisor) student staff.

Campus is currently building North Torrey Pines Living Learning Community (NTPLLN), the new home of Sixth College with just over 2,000 undergraduate beds, opening in Summer/Fall 2020.

Website URL/Links for Undergraduate Housing (including rates, deadlines, contracts, FAQs):

What are the University’s community Housing areas?

Campus Housing is provided at all of UC San Diego’s six colleges. For neighborhood descriptions and sample room layouts, visit our Undergrad Housing page.

In addition, The Village is a community of apartments and retails spaces that was designed specifically for transfer students. For neighborhood information and sample room layouts, visit The Village website.

What is the Room Selection process?

Room Selection is an annual process for current residents to contract for the upcoming academic year. Eligible students who complete the Housing contract process are able to self-select into available Housing spaces.

Upon completion of Room Selection, we allow students who’ve self-selected into spaces the opportunity to put their name on a list for a room change if something becomes available.

HDH actively reviews our space management on a yearly basis to anticipate the needs of returning and incoming space, which may affect assignments and availability during the Room Selection process. This may include items such as:

  • Adding additional triple spaces if feasible.
  • Delayed assignment option which “delays” the guaranteed student’s assignment.
  • Consolidation and relocation based on occupancy needs. We try to accommodate incoming students with each other when possible.

How are Housing costs determined?

UC San Diego has one of the lowest Housing and Dining programs in the UC system to date. HDH is an auxiliary at UCSD, which means that HDH is self-sustaining. We don’t receive any state or federal funds; all money comes from room and board: 68 percent is Housing charges, 19 percent from the Dining Dollar program, and 13 percent from conferences, catering, and other programs that help support business and keep costs affordable.

HDH expenses are in three main areas:

  • About 35 percent is spent on salaries and benefits. HDH has 600 full time employees and 1000+ students.
  • Next major operating cost includes maintaining the buildings, carpet, utilities, food cost, which is about 42 percent.
  • Last piece is debt service/mortgage, which is about 25 percent.

What are the Housing costs and payment schedules?

Housing costs are reviewed on an annual basis: HDH presents a budget to the Undergraduate Housing Advisory Committee and reviews levels of services to help determine the changes to the Housing cost for the upcoming year. Rates are typically decided upon before the end of winter quarter. HDH posts an “expected range” to help guide prospective residents until rates are confirmed. Costs and payment schedules:

What is the update on laundry services and repairs?

HDH has contacted service provider WASH Laundry Systems and clarified the required repair process, resulting in quicker response times to get repairs done.

WASH added a new management team to focus on customer service, equipment maintenance and to improve their overall response time.

In addition, per our request, they performed a comprehensive equipment audit on campus and fixed or replaced all down equipment. Going forward, WASH is working closely with our maintenance team to ensure that all down equipment is addressed in a timely fashion.

As a follow up to the issues that we experienced with WASH last spring, HDH Procurement is working with internal partners to continue to offer value adds for the students in the upcoming school year.

Why is Housing moving to wireless connectivity for the residential areas?

Student demand. Students’ number one technical service request is for better wireless in their residential areas. Less than 5 percent of the available wired ports for all residential areas were used even one time in the last two years.

Why can’t we have both wired and wireless connections?

Due to limited resources and expenses, we must make a choice to concentrate our efforts on wireless connectivity. To keep up with wireless demand, we are adding more access points, whereas it is costly and inconvenient to rip open walls and run new wire (and would also require taking residences offline for a considerable period of time). Additionally, these costs would have to be passed along to students and would cause sizable increases in Housing fees. By converting wired ports to access points, we can get better usage, more connected devices, and better overall coverage. This keeps costs reasonable for residents and provides the service they want without a sizable increase in fees.

When will my residential area convert to wireless connectivity?

As you can imagine, converting a large area such as UC San Diego Housing takes planning, preparation, money, and time. We are doing a couple of campus areas each year, and it will take about five years to complete. Before we convert an area, we survey the area so we can design the new wireless network to provide the best service possible. Then usually during summer and breaks, we replace aging access points with better ones where needed, and we convert the old wired port connections to add even more wireless access points. Then we test everything and make sure it is working as expected. Each year we will announce the areas to be upgraded.

Who should I contact if I need assistance with WiFi service in my residential area?

Please open a ticket with ResNet, and we will get a tech out to determine the issue. If there are problems with our network, the techs will open service tickets with campus networking, and we will dispatch people out to work on resolving the issues. If there are problems with your system, the techs will do their best to help you.

What are HDH’s sustainability efforts on campus?

HDH takes a multi-faceted approach to sustainability, and it is an important part of every division within the department. For more information on what we do, and what you can do, visit the HDH sustainability website and our Dining sustainability page.

The HDH Econauts are the student face of HDH Sustainability, working to spread awareness of sustainable lifestyles and practices, and assisting with green programming on campus. If you are a student who is interested in being more involved, please email econauts@ucsd.edu.

Do you offer student employment within HDH?

Dining currently employees 1050 students; we are the largest employer of students in the entire UC system. Dining Services offers flexible scheduling around classes, a perquisite meal with every shift, growth and promotion opportunities, skills gained (included on Co-Curricular Record), and competitive wages.

Minimum wage in San Diego County for 2018 is $11.50/hour. Student pay in HDH starts at $11.50/hour and up depending on job title and level of responsibilities.

Staff and student pay rates are different because each job has a description and job title code associated with it. Staff jobs and student jobs do not have the same responsibilities nor the same job title codes.

Find out more at Tinyurl.com/hdhemploy.

How else can I get involved?

Become a Dining Ambassador! Our student Dining Ambassadors attend fun events, are present in Dining units to connect personally with customers, and are active on our social media accounts. If you are interested in applying for this position, keep an eye out for our next recruitment on the HDH website; the website Handshake (formerly Port Triton); our Facebook and Instagram pages; or email DiningEngagement@ucsd.edu.


Contacting HDH

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Contacting HDH

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