Thursday, September 28, 2023

Sidelines Guidelines: A quick guide to eating on campus


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Photo and story by Victoria Leuang / Contributing Writer

Updated on September 15 at 3:25 p.m. to reflect Asian Express’ acceptance of meal plans in the form of Flex Bucks, but they do not accept meal equivalency. Sidelines regrets the error.

If you forgot to pack your lunch for the day, it’s OK because MT Dining has got you covered. However, many students at MTSU have no clue what to have for lunch on campus. There’s a variety of restaurants to satisfy your taste buds. If you don’t want to spend all of that precious time you have away from the lecture halls and private study waiting in line for campus food, you may want to have a look at the meal plans that Sun Basket offers. You can even use this recommended Sun Basket promo to get the meal of your choice. At least you know that there are other food options in the Student Union though.

The best part about campus restaurants is that there is always a place nearby. There are places to eat in the Student Union, Keathley University Center (KUC), McCallie and Raider Zone Dining Halls and, of course, any of the Provisions on Demand (P.O.D.) locations all over campus can offer a quick meal. MT Dining locations accept meal plans, Flex Bucks — some even offer Meal Equivalency — as well as cash and credit cards.

Some students underestimate campus restaurants that actually serve good food while others can be skipped without missing out. With options ranging from a healthy wrap at Happy Tomato to an all-time favorite chicken sandwich from Chick-Fil-A, here’s a guide to help you decide where to go for lunch on campus.

KUC Grill

The KUC is located in the center of campus next to the Davis Science Building. There are several well-known brands, such as Chick-Fil-A, Pizza Hut, Subway, Asian Express and Brewed Awakenings.

Brewed Awakenings is good for early-morning classes, serving hot coffee, pastries and breakfast sandwiches. They are open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Friday. Chick-Fil-A’s breaded chicken minis are popular for breakfast as well and is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m on Friday. Both locations serve breakfast and lunch.

As many students stop by the KUC for lunch, the lines tend to get lengthy. Pizza Hut Express is a good option for a quick meal with its grab-and-go serving style, offering cheese sticks and marinara sauce, personal pizzas, chicken alfredo pasta and more. They are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday.

Subway is a good choice for a healthier meal option, although wait times for a sandwich depend on the time of day. But, it’s one of the most popular lunch choices among students, partially because it’s hard to say no to their fresh, soft-baked cookies. They are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday.

Some students make the mistake of forgetting Asian Express, which is a quick stop for fried rice, noodles, egg rolls, sushi and more. While they do accept Flex Bucks, this is the only location that does not accept meal equivalency. They are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Student Union Food Court

The Student Union food court has the widest selection on campus. It is located right next to the Honors Building and the College of Education, and includes Happy Tomato, Panda Express, Steak ‘n Shake, Dunkin’ Donuts, Dippers Chicken, Blue Raider Grill and the largest P.O.D.

The healthiest option is Happy Tomato where you can build your own salad, wrap or baked potato from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday. The Blue Raider Grill is an underrated campus restaurant where students can hang out while enjoying fresh salads, half-pound burgers, appetizers and more from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday. Panda Express features favorites such as orange chicken, kung pao chicken and several sides to choose from. If you search Google for “Panda Express keto” you’ll even find some options that are suitable for a keto diet, so don’t be put off if you are currently sticking to a diet plan. Panda Express is open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday and accepts Flex Bucks, but not meal equivalency.

New this semester, Dippers is a place to get your southern-fried chicken from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday, and Steak ‘n Shake, which is not even two years old, has the tastiest burgers and milkshakes and is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday.

For sweets or a quick breakfast, Dunkin’ Donuts has a variety of donuts, bagels and lunch sandwiches. They are open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, but breakfast meal equivalency cannot be used at Dunkin’; only lunch and dinner meal equivalency can be.

Campus Dining Halls

McCallie’s Dining Hall is one of two dining halls that are great for students with a meal plan. It is a buffet-style dining hall located on the back side of Corlew Hall. This is a favorite for on-campus students because there’s so many options including omelets or a grill to make a waffle in the morning, but it costs approximately $9 for those without meal plans.

McCallie’s even has vegetarian and gluten-free options so there’s something for everyone. They change their specials every day, but you can’t miss all-you-can-eat fried chicken every Wednesday. They are open from 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday.

Raider Zone is the second dining hall located in the basement of the James Union Building. They offer the same things as McCallie’s, but with fewer options. However, this is a hidden gem that not many students know about, located across from Peck Hall and popular among students that live in the residence halls on the west side of campus like Lyon, Monohan or Rutledge. They are open from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday.


If you need some energy to refuel from a long night of studying or a group meeting, Starbucks is a great option. It’s located in the James E. Walker Library near the entrance, and it’s convenient because it opens early and stays open late to accommodate the busy student’s schedule. Their hours are 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday to Wednesday, 7 a.m. to 12 a.m. on Thursday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. to 12 a.m. on Sunday. Starbucks accepts Flex Bucks and has a special meal swipe from Monday to Thursday after 10 p.m.

P.O.D. Express (Provisions on Demand)

“The P.O.D.” is a great place to stop if you’re in a rush to class, but want a quick snack or even a Scantron. This is a corner-store-style market that offers freshly prepared salads, sushi, sandwiches, snacks and any other essentials usually found in a convenience store. Microwaves are also available for any students who bring meals from home. There are five locations in the Bragg Mass Communications Building, Business and Aerospace Building, Peck Hall, Cyber Café and the Student Union Building.

The P.O.D. in the Bragg Mass Communications Building is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Friday. The P.O.D. in the Business and Aerospace Building is open from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday. The P.O.D. in Peck Hall is open from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday. The P.O.D. in the Cyber Cafe is open from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. seven days per week. The P.O.D. in the Student Union Building is open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday to Friday, 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday and 12 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Sunday.

Cyber Café

The Cyber Café is available for students with late-night cravings because it’s open until 2 a.m. The P.O.D.-and-Subway-in-one between Judd Hall and Gracy Hall near the science building opens at Relax with your friends in the booths or patio, making it the perfect after-hours MT Dining location on campus.

MT Dining is convenient for everyone on campus. For more information about MT Dining and meal plans, click here.

To contact Lifestyles Editor Tayhlor Stephenson, email

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  1. I greatly appreciate the efforts that MT Dining makes on this campus. I am forever thankful that I can get my daily Dunkin’ Donuts or a wrap from Happy Tomato. As a public relations major, I frequently stop in the P.O.D. in the John Bragg College of Media and entertainment building, the former Mass Communication building, for a snack between classes.
    Overall I think this article provides a great synopsis of the dining options around campus. I think that freshman and new transfer students can gain valuable information by a guide to eating on campus. I would like to see more content focusing on campus opportunities and adding in students’ perspectives (quotes).
    Additionally, I think a paragraph explaining MT Dining services and hours of operation could have greatly contributed to the reader’s understanding. The concept of MT Dining services being ran through a third party is rather odd to process at first. Of course, students quickly learn to process this information and begin to understand that MT Dining is associated with Aramark.

    • I think this article is meant to just give information so there shouldn’t be any quotes dude…the hours of operation is posted too.

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