Sarah Blugis: Add a kosher meal plan to campus dining

Whether you’re counting calories, choosing a salad over a slice of J Street pizza or resisting the urge to grab a snack from GW Deli as a substitute for lunch, balancing a diet is often a daunting task for college students. And students who keep kosher have even more dietary obstacles.

About 30 percent of students identify as Jewish, and The Hatchet reported last fall that many were frustrated by the lack of kosher options on campus. Last summer, GW nixed Nosh, the kosher deli in J Street, and many complained that the kosher fridge available at J Street simply wasn’t adequate.

To accommodate Jewish students, the Student Dining Board and Campus Support Services added the kosher Wraps2Go catering to J Street and introduced Eli’s – a popular kosher restaurant near Dupont Circle – to GWorld.

Chair of the Student Dining Board Mike Morgan told me the board is proud of its efforts to accommodate kosher students and after exploring all other options, the board does not believe it needs to further expand kosher options.

But I disagree.

Eating a wrap or food from the freezer every day is bound to get old quickly. And Eli’s is out of the way for most students, especially when balancing extracurriculars and homework or, even worse, when living on the Mount Vernon Campus.

That’s why the University should offer a kosher meal plan option.

Under this system, students could sign up for the meal plan at the beginning of the year just as they do for the regular J Street meal plan so they can have access to hot meals every day. And given the list of participating students, the University would have a good idea of how much food to prepare daily so that an adequate amount of kosher options could be prepared.

This proposal isn’t new. In 2001, members of the campus community came up with the same idea.

But now that the GW Hillel plans to renovate its building in the near future, and add in-house kosher eating options, this seems like the perfect time to introduce a specialized meal plan to complement Hillel’s efforts.

Other universities do more to accommodate students with specific dietary needs. Take Syracuse University, for example, which has a kosher kitchen at one of its dining halls. There, the dining is closely regulated, preparation is carefully overseen and foods are inspected for proper shipping and storage. In addition, the school has secured other kosher vendors on campus to provide a multitude of options for kosher diets.

And while there are roughly 40 to 50 students on campus who keep kosher, the University should work to ensure that all students’ dietary needs are adequately met.

Sarah Blugis is a freshman majoring in political communication.

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