Kosher food program receives overhaul
Washington University students will be treated to a new kosher food program this coming year as it undergoes a facelift.
Kosher food on campus already has seen a large overhaul with a new development in the meal plan system. In previous years, a separate kosher meal plan existed and served approximately 40 students. Certain food items were only available for students with the kosher meal plan.
Now, kosher meals have been integrated with the rest of the food on campus and will be more accessible, cost-effective and better tasting, according to Nadeem Siddiqui, resident district manager for Bon Appétit.
“I personally believe that it’s a mainstream program,” Siddiqui said. “It’s not a separation and it should be available to everybody at all locations.
With the new dining plan, Siddiqui hopes all students will be encouraged to eat kosher foods, not just those who traditionally keep kosher. The plan also seeks to better serve vegetarians, vegans, students who adhere to Halal requirements and others who wish to develop healthier eating habits.
Currently, the dining area in the South 40 House offers a kosher station that is open on nights from Sunday to Thursday. Bon Appétit held a kosher food tasting session at Hillel this past week.
Now that everyone can use their meal points to eat kosher, Bon Appétit has run out of kosher food options on many nights.
“It’s actually really popular,” Siddiqui said.
Prepackaged kosher food is available in all of the campus dining areas. Compared to last year, twice as many prepackaged items are being offered this year.
Pascal Schaefer, a student intern hired to help improve the kosher food program at Bon Appétit, is working to compile a list of already kosher food and beverages that the University can provide, such as juices and milk. Since most students may not be aware of this change, Bon Appétit will provide the list to dining patrons as soon as the process is complete.
Despite these new efforts, Schaefer said he still believes that many students do not enjoy the taste of kosher food—though he would disagree.
“I think that the food is great,” he said. “Taste-wise, it’s greatly improved over the summer.”
Next year, the kosher meal plan will undergo even more changes. Currently, all the kosher food is still prepared and cooked in the kitchen at Hillel. Once the second phase of the South 40 House is finished, the second floor will house a full kosher kitchen for both meat and dairy products.
Bergson Café in the Danforth University Center will provide microwaves behind the bakery that will be used for heating only kosher food so that students, faculty and staff who buy prepackaged items will be able to enjoy their food warm.
If the microwave program is successful, Bon Appétit will expand it and implement kosher microwaves in other eateries on campus as well.
One advantage of the kosher food program, Siddiqui said, is that it displays the University’s respect for all its students and gives everyone the opportunity to learn about different cultures.
“Culturally, [kosher food is] educational for other groups of people so they know what kosher is and why,” he said. “We learn from each other and why people eat a certain way and what it means to them.”
As there are few places in the St. Louis area that provides kosher food, Siddiqui said he believes the University’s food program and services may become an amenity to the wider community in the future.
The national organization Hillel reports that the University’s undergraduate population is 26 percent Jewish.