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College Food

Canteen Meals

All Colleges provide a canteen service; typically breakfast, lunch and dinner are provided during the week and a reduced service operates at the weekends. Outside of term, provision varies by college. Food is typically of a reasonable standard, with several options, and is fairly cheap. Some Colleges have reciprocal dining rights for canteen meals, allowing students to use other Colleges' canteens and pay member prices.


Formal Hall

Formal Hall is probably the aspect of Cambridge that most corresponds to the Cambridge image: a three-course meal served by waiters in an grand hall. In most Colleges, formal wear (including an academic gown) is required, Grace is said at the beginning and end of the meal and the Fellows sit at a different table to the students. The food is generally better than typical College food and Formal Hall is often a good way to spend time among other members of the student community. MCRs often organise 'formal swaps' whereby students from one college meet a group at another college for formall hall there- this can be a great way to experience other colleges!


Kitchen Fixed Charge (KFC)

The KFC is a charge that some Colleges require graduate students to pay as a contribution towards the overhead costs of catering. Each college has its own policy regarding the KFC and the amount charged varies from nothing to more than £100 per term. Your College will be able to tell you about their KFC policy. If you are unable to eat college food, for example for religious reasons or because you work in a lab far from town you may be able to claim an exemption from paying KFC – again each college has a different policy on this, so talk to your tutor or your MCR.

Some colleges also have a 'minimum spend' limit, whereby if you don’t spend a certain amount on college catering facilities in each term, you’re charged this amount anyway.

Gyp Room / Kitchen

A gyp room is the traditional Cambridge term for a food-preparation facility within a college. It dates back to the times when students would usually eat in college dining halls, and even nowadays some college accommodation provides little more than the essentials to make a cup of tea or a sandwich – a sink, a work surface, somewhere to plug a kettle in and maybe a fridge and a gas ring. Some college accommodation (especially for undergraduates) still only has these basic facilities, while other college accommodation has more fully equipped kitchens with freezers, ovens etc. The distinction between “gyp room” and “kitchen” is pretty vague; if anything a kitchen may be slightly better equipped.


World Foods

There are a multitude of shops selling foodstuffs from around the world in Cambridge, including kosher and halal products. Good areas to look in are:

  • Mill Road: Asian, African and Indian supermarkets, including fresh vegetables and exotic fish and produce.
  • Junction of Histon Road and Victoria Road: Nasreen Dar – Indian and African supermarket


Shops and Restaurants

The main supermarkets in central Cambridge are Sainsbury's on Sidney Street and Marks and Spencer on Market Square. Larger supermarkets can be found slightly further afield:

  • Asda: Beehive Centre, Coldhams Lane
  • Sainsbury's: Brooks Road
  • Tesco: Cheddars Lane, Newmarket Road
  • Waitrose: Hauxton Road, Trumpington


Useful Websites