Frequently Asked Questions for Students living in Residences:
Foodservices Dining Plans – Residence Students
Symons Campus, Peterborough
Durham Campus, GTA
Why do I have a Dining Plan?
Students living in residences operated by the University are required to have a Dining Plan. Dining Plans are an important way to ensure students have the opportunity to eat well during the school year. Dining in any of the food service facilities on campus will help you meet new friends and give you a break from the other demands of being a University student. Each residence room type has a specific Dining Plan associated with it. If you are living in a traditional residence, without in-suite cooking facilities, a Dining Plan is the primary source for dining. If you are living in a suite that has cooking facilities the Dining Plan is intended to supplement the meals that you prepare for yourself. The Dining Plan will assist you when you are short of time, help you meet and make friends over meal periods, and help ensure you are well fueled to perform.
How do I select my Dining Plan?
A Basic Tax Exempt Dining Plan is associated with each type of room. The Dining Plan is automatically charged to your student account based on the room type you selected or were assigned. If you wish to upgrade to a larger Dining Plan than the one associated with your room type, there are options available that you can select as part of your residence offer.
|Basic Tax Exempt Dining Plan||$3,875||$2,360|
Supplement your Dining Plan:
Add Trent Cash
|$0- 3,500||$0- 3,500|
How do I pay for my Dining Plan?
The Dining Plan is charged directly to your student account based on the room type you select or are assigned. If you choose to upgrade your Dining Plan with Trent Cash, these additional costs will also appear on your student account.
I noticed that the Traditional Dining Plan has a “cost” of $4,700 and a “value” of $3,875. What happened to the difference?
To understand where we are today, it helps to understand how we got here. It is all about trying to be as transparent as possible. Until May of 2015, Foodservices operated under the umbrella of Housing, and the total cost of room and board was shown as one price. Since May 2015, Foodservices operates separately from Housing. For this reason two different charges are made to a student’s account. Prior to May 2015, the actual allocation of funds was exactly the same as it is today, students just did not see it as transparently as we want. The $825 Foodservices Administrative Overhead is used to pay for things like utilities, space costs, maintenance, repairs, cleaning and University administrative costs. Additionally, during orientation week up to 10 meals will be provided free of charge. To ensure a students’ funds are well managed, the operating budget for Foodservices is developed and approved by a student committee in the spring of each year.
Will my Basic Dining Plan last all year?
A number of factors influence how long your Dining Plan will last. It all comes down to how much you spend per day and per week. The Basic Dining Plan is designed with the “average” student in mind. Look at the questions below. Which option most closely represents you?
A basic meal plan will likely work for me if:
- I usually eat 2 times a day
- I plan to leave campus most weekends
- I tend to eat small meals
- I am relatively inactive
- I do not eat many snacks
- I do not drink much coffee or tea
I may need to supplement my meal plan if:
- I eat three or more times per day
- I will be on campus most weekends
- I eat larger meals
- I am very active
- I eat snacks
- I drink a lot of coffee or tea
You can supplement your Basic Dining Plan with Trent Cash, either as part of your residence room selection process or at any time during the year.
How does my Dining Plan work?
An account is set up for you on a secure database for the initial deposit value, just like a bank debit card. When you make purchases the value is deducted from your Dining Plan. After each transaction you can ask for a receipt that will display your balance, or you can check your balance and transaction history on-line on the MyTrent Portal. Please select Finances and follow the links to TrentU Card.
Where can I use my Dining Plan?
Your Basic Dining Plan can be used at all on-campus foodservice locations.
Your Dining Plan can also be used to pay for on campus purchases through the BOOST mobile order app for pre-order, pre-pay at the four main dining halls, Starbucks and the Durham GTA Cafe.
When can I use my Dining Plan?
Your Dining Plan can be used from the day you move in until the end of the semester at all times that a foodservice location is open. There are no restrictions regarding when you can use your Dining Plan.
What if I don’t use my entire Dining Plan?
Trent has one of the most flexible and inclusive dining plans in the country. Many students find that they have a balance at the end of the term(s) that they were in residence. For all Dining Plans, any funds remaining at the end of first term will automatically carry forward to second term. Any funds remaining at the end of second term will automatically carry forward to the next year. Your dining plan is designed to meet your needs for the term(s) that you are in residence. On a gratuitous basis your dining plan balance that remains at the end of your term(s) in residence will automatically carry forward to the next year. Your funds will be available for you to use until you graduate or otherwise leave the University, and for two additional years. However, the tax exemption of the Dining Plan applies only to the semester(s) for which it was purchased. When you complete your terms in residence, if you have a left over balance, these funds will remain in your Dining Plan, but will be subject to HST. Dining Plan balances are not refundable, non-transferable and cannot be converted to Trent Cash.
What if I use all of my Dining Plan?
You can add money to your Dining Plan at any time throughout the year or transfer money from your Trent Cash account to your Dining Plan. Your tax exempt status remains the same for the term.
What happens if my student card is lost or stolen?
If your student card is lost or stolen you must immediately deactivate it online at www.trentu.ca/mytrent. Please select Finances and follow the links to TrentU Card. Alternatively, you can report the lost card directly to the TrentU Card Office at 705-748-1011 x7431. The balance in your Dining Plan will be protected as soon as the card is deactivated. You are responsible for all transactions prior to deactivating your card. Please visit the TrentU Card Office for a card replacement if required.
What if my card stops working?
Take it to the TrentU Card Office to have some troubleshooting done. Sometimes the cards become damaged. It is quick and easy to have it fixed, but may require a replacement card, which can be picked up at the TrentU Card Office.
What if I move out of Residence but I'm still at Trent as a student?
Your Dining Plan will continue to work, and your tax exempt status remains the same for the remainder of the term(s) you originally purchased the plan for. Any funds remaining at the end of first term will automatically carry forward to second term. Any funds remaining at the end of second term will automatically carry forward to the next year. Your funds will be available for you to use until you graduate or otherwise leave the University, and for two additional years. However, the tax exemption of the Dining Plan applies only to the semester(s) for which it was purchased. When you complete your terms in residence, if you have a left over balance, these funds will remain in your Dining Plan, but will be subject to HST. Dining Plan balances are not refundable, non-transferable and cannot be converted to Trent Cash.
What if I move out of Residence prior to the end of the contracted term(s) and simultaneously leave the University?
A resident who elects to withdraw from residence and elects to withdraw from the University prior to the start of exams will receive a refund of their remaining dining plan balance, less a 15% administration fee. Please refer to your Residence Agreement for greater detail.
How do I find out my balance?
You can view your balance and transaction history online at www.trentu.ca/mytrent. Please select Finances and follow the links for TrentU Card. Alternatively, you may ask any cashier to advise you of your current balance.
What is tax exempt and what is not?
The Canada Revenue Agency allows qualifying Dining Plans to be exempt from HST for most foods purchased on campus. Some items, including pop, chips, chocolate bars, gums, mints, candy and similar “snack foods” and any non-food merchandise will have HST applied if they are purchased either alone or only with other “snack” foods and not as part of a meal. For example, if you buy a bottle of pop and a bag of chips, both items will have HST applied and therefore your Dining Plan cannot be used for that transaction. If you buy a bottle of pop, a bag of chips, and a sandwich, the entire “meal” is tax exempt and the purchase can be made with your Dining Plan. To protect the tax exempt status of your Dining Plan, when making purchases that do not qualify for exemption, the value of the purchase, including the tax, is deducted from your Trent Cash balance. If in doubt, ask the cashier. All food and beverages purchased from vending machines or from the Bookstore are fully taxed and may only be purchased using Trent Cash.
Why are Dining Plans non-transferable?
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) sets the rules that apply to tax exempt dining plans. The plan value cannot be transferred to another individual as that person may not qualify to receive this benefit.
Why are Dining Plans non-refundable?
To understand why dining plans at Trent are mandatory, non-transferable and not refundable, it helps to also understand how the broader dining plan model works at Trent, and for comparative purposes, across the Province and the Country. The dining plans at Trent were designed through extensive and broad based consultation with students. The most substantial change that students made to the dining plan was to move to an entirely declining balance model, in the fall of 2014. By comparison, many Canadian schools still use an all-you-care-to-eat model. Students at Trent wanted the flexibility that comes with a declining balance system, allowing students to dine when and where they wanted and giving them access to all of the locations on campus, including our branded outlets, as part of the dining program. The dining plans as currently configured are among the most liberal in the province and provide considerable flexibility for students. The cost of a dining plan in the fall of 2020 was lower than it was in 2013. This was made possible because students had a say in how the plans were designed. When we changed to a declining balance model we listened very closely to the feedback we were receiving from our residents. The most important feature that students were looking for was the carry forward of any unused funds. Prior to 2014-2015 any unused funds were forfeited at the end of the school year. This is still the norm at many Canadian schools. This single change has saved our residents over $5 million dollars since 2014, funds that they were able to use in future years. In 2017 the basic tax exempt residence dining plan was opened up and allowed it to be used at every food service outlet on campus, including the student run Seasoned Spoon and the local artisanal bakery, The Planet North and most recently Starbucks. Trent is the only school in Canada that allows its entire dining plan to be used at every on-campus food service outlet. This provides residents considerable additional flexibility in when, where and what they eat. To make this degree of flexibility possible, to allow for carry forward of unused funds and to have one of the lowest cost dining plans in the Country, our residential food service program requires that each resident fairly shares in the cost of operating the program. All of the cost of building, maintaining and staffing the food service facilities have already been spent, on each resident’s behalf. It is similar to the cost of a residence room. Some students only stay in the room four or five nights per week, while others stay all seven. Each resident shares the cost of operating the Housing program evenly. The services are available to you, if you choose to use them, and will continue to be available to you as long as there is account activity at least once every 24 months. Your dining plan balance has no cash value, is non-refundable and non-transferable.