Hillel proposes kosher meal plan

GW Hillel could offer a kosher dining plan that would provide Jewish students with more on-campus kosher food options by next fall, Hillel officials said.

Hillel will submit a proposal in two weeks that would allow students to purchase a meal plan from Hillel similar to the one GW offers, Hillel Executive Director Simon Amiel said. Hillel, located on the corner of 23rd and H streets, plans to serve lunch and dinner six days a week in its basement.

Under the plan, students would purchase a semester- or year-long meal plan from Hillel at the beginning of the year, with a set number of kosher meals a week. Aramark, the contracted GW food provider, would receive money for each student who signs up, but Hillel would run the venture, Amiel said.

Hillel severs dinner four nights a week, but the proposed plan would make it easier for students to follow Jewish dietary laws more often, Amiel said. The current system receives funding from GW Dining Services.

Kosher food is supervised during production to ensure that it meets Jewish dietary laws, which include the separation of dairy and meat products. Also, animals have to be ritually slaughtered in a way that causes them the least suffering possible.

Hillel is equipped to run a new food option, and Amiel said he expects about 30 to 40 students will initially sign up to eat at the new facility on a regular basis.

“If there is a good product, we will eventually attract a lot of people to the plan and become a regular dining option for GW students,” he said.

Princeton University and other schools with smaller Jewish populations than GW already have more kosher food options, Amiel said. Jewish students make up about 30 percent of GW’s student population, according to Hillel estimates.

“We have a large Jewish community and dining options aren’t adequate for those who need to keep kosher,” said freshman Jonah Zinn, a Hillel member.

He said that a lack of kosher products at Provisions Market and limited options at J Street prohibit students from keeping healthy diets and make it difficult for some to remain faithful to religious practices.

Hillel has attempted restaurant-style options open to the public in the past, but they have failed because it is difficult to predict how much food to prepare, Amiel said.

“Past plans have all been restaurants, but this will be more of a meal plan which will allow us to know how much food we need to have ahead of time,” Amiel said. “It will initially be limited to those on the meal plan, but if it is successful, we will look into making it open to the public in future years.”

Amiel said the kosher dining plan could begin by next fall.

Lyle Vaughn, assistant director of Auxiliary and Institutional Services, said the University is open to finding more ways to supply students with kosher food.

“The University currently subsidizes $5,000 towards the four-night plan,” Vaughn said. “We have a large population that keeps kosher, but we have to look at it financially and see if any proposed plan will be successful.”

The Student Association Senate unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday night, calling for more on-campus kosher food options.

The resolution calls for the University administration to work with the Dining Services commission “to establish a legitimate kosher dining option.”

“We are currently working with Hillel and Provisions (Market) to create more options for students,” said Jared Degnan, director of the SA Dining Services Commission.

He said the commission is working with the Marvin Center to bring more vegan, vegetarian, halal – which follows Muslim dietary laws – and kosher food options to Provisions.

“We’re about enhancing Jewish life on campus and this option would allow students who are sitting on the fence of keeping kosher, to have a new, real option,” Amiel said.

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