Details of charges and costs, the Minimum Meals Charge and the ways of paying for food in College can be found in the Finance section of this guide. What follows is the practical guide to the College’s Catering operations.

7.3.1 Meal Availability

The College operates on the basis that it provides catering facilities centrally for students rather than a self-catering system.  Selwyn is not a self-catering College and the facilities on each staircase are intended for the preparation of light snacks only. These facilities are available in shared spaces, known as Gyp Rooms, near students’ rooms.

Three meals are available in the cafeteria service in the main Hall on six days of the week and two on Sunday.

The times of meals in Hall during Full Term are:

Monday to Friday



8.00 am

9.30 am


8.00 am

12.30 pm

Full Cafeteria service

12.30 pm

1.30 pm

Dinner (Cafeteria Service)

6.00 pm

7.00 pm

(Formal Hall)


7.30 pm




8.00 am

9.00 am


12.45 pm

1.30 pm


6.00 pm

7.00 pm




11.30 am

12.30 pm


6.00 pm

7.00 pm

Times may vary out of Term; any changes will be posted in the entrance to the Hall.

Formal Hall is the term used for waiter-served three-course meal that is available twice a week, on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. It is, as the name suggests, a formal meal. Many students choose to invite guests from outside College to Formal Hall. Those attending Formal Hall should be dressed formally in keeping with the occasion, i.e. jacket and tie, or equivalent. Jeans or trainers are not acceptable. Gowns are worn and a Latin grace read by one of the Scholars or by the presiding Fellow. You may entertain guests in Hall (maximum two) at the charges currently in force, provided space is available. Rules and guidelines for Formal Hall are set out here. Tickets for Formal Hall are sold one week in advance and can be purchased from the Cafeteria.

The Cafeteria is open for the purchase of drinks, hot food, snacks, and sandwiches. There are also a number of non-food items available in the Cafeteria such as toiletries, notepads, batteries and washing powder etc.

Arrangements can be made via the College Nurse for meals to be served in your room if you are ill.

Arrangements can be made to hold special dinners in the public rooms in College. If you wish to organise such a meal, you should consult the Catering & Conference Office ( in good time. The College expects the same standards of behaviour at such events as at Formal Hall.

7.3.2 Special Dietary Requirements

Vegetarian dishes are provided in Hall at every meal, but if any students have special dietary requirements not currently catered for, they should consult the Executive Head Chef  (mr300); gluten-free and other special diets are regularly catered for. No vegetarian meal contains any meat or animal fat, and cross-contamination is avoided; vegetarian meals are therefore suitable for those on halal or most kosher diets. Any student with a serious or unusual allergy (e.g. nuts) should contact the Executive Head Chef when they arrive (or better still in advance) to discuss how the College can help them. See also the University’s ‘Guidelines on the management of individuals at risk of anaphylaxis’ at:

Students requiring kosher or halal food on a regular or occasional basis should discuss their individual requirements with the Executive Head Chef. Kosher food is also available at the University Jewish Society (

The College welcomes feedback on all aspects of its catering and suggestions may be made via the suggestions box in Hall or more formally through the student representatives on the Steward’s Committee.

7.3.3 Payment For Meals

Meals from the Cafeteria should be paid for using your University Card. The card operates on a credit system. The meals you have taken during one term will appear on the College bill for the following term. You may also use your card in the Bar. A condition of using your University Card for the purchase of meals is that you pay the Minimum Meals Charge (MMC). For all Junior Members living in College- provided accommodation the MMC is compulsory and is charged automatically to your College bill, usually in the Michaelmas Term of your first-year.

The MMC represents a requirement to purchase a minimum amount from the Cafeteria in a given period. Consumption is measured over calendar quarters, so for the Michaelmas Term any purchases in the period 1 October to 31 December would count towards the minimum termly spend of  £82 for someone living in. There is no minimum charge for the Long Vacation period: 1 July to 30 September.

Students who spend less per term than the level of the MMC will see the shortfall charged on the following term’s College bill. The entries that will appear on the College bill in each case are set out in more detail in the finance section of this guide.

Cash (in Sterling) is also accepted in the Cafeteria and the Bar. After each transaction a till receipt can be provided which will show the amount of the latest transaction and the cumulative spend for the quarter.

Junior Members living out when there is no room available in College who think that they are unlikely to spend as much as the MMC per term may opt out of the Minimum Meals requirement. This means that they will not be able to use their University Card in the Cafeteria and Bar. Any meals bought in College will have to be paid for at the time and will be charged at the higher rate. Junior Members wishing to opt out must inform the Bursary as soon as possible at the start of term and certainly before the due date on their College bill for that term, otherwise the charge will be applied for that term.

If you lose your University Card, or it becomes unreadable by the card readers in the Cafeteria, the Bursary can provide you with a temporary card for use until you obtain a replacement University Card. A refundable deposit of £4 will be charged to your College bill. Please return your temporary card to the Bursary when you no longer need it, otherwise your University Card will not be reactivated for use in the Cafeteria. The deposit will then be refunded.

7.3.4 Formal Hall and formal dinners

Dining together in Hall is an important way in which a sense of community is established. Formal Hall is a significant communal event and one that shows the College off to visitors. It is therefore important that standards of behaviour at such an event must remain suitable to the occasion. Everybody in College should be able to enjoy this aspect of our communal life. To this end, the following set of guidelines and rules have been agreed with the JCR and MCR to govern both Formal Hall dining and any other formal dinners such as those organised by individuals, clubs and societies, the JCR or the MCR.

What Formal Hall is:

  • an occasion when members of College can dine together, in formal yet relaxed surroundings.
  • an occasion on which members of College can invite guests, both from other Colleges and outside Cambridge,  to whom they wish to extend hospitality.

The College undertakes to provide:

  • a carefully prepared meal at an affordable price.
  • courteous and polite service.
  • a congenial and pleasant atmosphere.
  • an agreed system for making block bookings.

Junior Members undertake:

  • to behave reasonably throughout the meal, and not to detract from others’ enjoyment of the meal by intrusive or anti-social behaviour.
  • At all times to behave courteously to the serving staff.
  • not to abuse or defeat deliberately any agreed system for controlling block bookings.
  • To take responsibility for, and to ensure the good behaviour of, any guests brought to dinner.

7.3.5 Guidelines for behaviour in Formal Hall

In addition to the guidelines below, you are reminded of the Code of Conduct for Behaviour at formal dinners.

  • Those dining are expected to behave in a considerate and well-mannered fashion, to be courteous to the staff at all times and not to indulge in raucous or otherwise anti-social behaviour, which may affect others.
  • Gowns should be worn at all times and dress should be formal in keeping with the occasion, i.e. jacket and tie, or equivalent. If the Hall is too hot, the Presiding Fellow may give permission for jackets to be removed.
  • During the meal, there is to be no shouting, singing or speech-making, toasting or any drinking games. Challenges which encourage the excessive or accelerated consumption of alcohol are not permitted. Unless needs must, those dining should remain seated at all times to avoid accidents involving those who are serving. Mobile phones should be switched off and photographs are not allowed whilst Fellows and College guests are in the Hall.
  • When High Table rises, a short concluding grace is said (response ‘Laus Deo’) and the Fellows and their guests leave. This is normally about 8.30 pm.
  • Once those dining on the High Table have left, the Butler’s permission may be sought for photographs to be taken provided that the photography does not adversely affect the experience of other diners.
  • On special occasions, such as a 21st birthday, permission may be sought, via the Butler, prior to the Fellows’ departure from the Presiding Fellow for a toast to be made. Very occasionally permission might be granted for a song of congratulation to be sung. Note that the Presiding Fellow will not normally give permission for more than one such toast or song per evening. None of these activities must interfere with the clearing of Hall.
  • Diners will normally be expected to leave the Hall by 8.45 pm.
  • Members of College are responsible for the behaviour of their guests.

The Butler and his staff have authority to ensure that these rules are obeyed, and they are authorised to require anyone breaking them to leave the Hall. Any person so required to leave will be asked for his or her name (or the name of the host) and may be reported to the Dean.

7.3.6 Scheme for Block Bookings

A system is in place to ensure that no single member of College books overly large numbers of tickets for Formal Hall. The purpose of setting a restriction on the number of tickets that can be purchased by any one person is twofold: firstly, to ensure that everybody who wishes to has the opportunity to purchase a ticket; secondly, to prevent the dinner being dominated by a large group of guests from outside College. The number of tickets that can be purchased by any one person is limited to three per dinner. Any scheme for controlling the sale of tickets can be defeated and abused; the proposed scheme relies on members of the College agreeing not to defeat the system. In the same spirit of co-operation, the Dean and Steward expect to be liberal in granting exceptions to this rule when reasonable requests are made. It is also proposed to continue the existing practice of making no table reservations in the Hall.

7.3.7 College Grace

The College Grace (with translation) is as follows:

Benedic, Domine, nobis et donis Tuis, quae de Tua largitate sumus sumpturi; et concede ut iis muneribus Tuis ad laudem Tuam utamur gratisque animis fruamur, per Jesum Christum Dominum Nostrum. Amen.

Bless us, O Lord, and all your gifts, which of your goodness we are about to enjoy; grant that we may use these generosities to your glory and enjoy them with thankful hearts, through  Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

At the end of dinner, the Presiding Fellow says: ‘Benedicamus Domino’ (Let us bless the Lord)to which the response (said by all) is: ‘Laus Deo’ (The Lord be praised).