September 7, 2010

Back To School: More Kosher Choices for College Students in 2010

New York…Colleges and universities with traditionally large percentages of Jewish students, such as Columbia, NYU, CUNY colleges, and the University of Pennsylvania, have always offered kosher food to their students, but now smaller colleges with typically fewer Jewish students are trying to bolster their Jewish population by offering kosher food in their dining halls for the first time. Muhlenberg College in Allentown PA has seen an increasing number of Jewish students attend its school, despite the fact that it is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church and named for the patriarch of the Lutheran Church in America. To respond to the needs of kosher consumers, and to further push their growing reputation to the forefront of Jewish students, it recently opened The Noshery. Featuring two separate kitchens, Noshery North and Noshery South, meat or pareve/dairy meals are served to students and faculty at the college who keep kosher or have other dietary restrictions. The school plans to open the restaurant to the general public the following semester and to offer kosher catering. University spokesperson Mike Bruckner said, “Muhlenberg has an extremely active Jewish population, 37 percent of our student body is Jewish, and our college is very attractive to Jewish students from Maine to Virginia.” Rabbi David Wilensky, of Allentown’s Congregation Sons of Israel said that the restaurant will also be frequented by the community since there are no kosher restaurants in Allentown.

Also in Pennsylvania, Dickinson College’s new kosher vegan eatery, innovatively called The KOVE, serves dishes such as falafel chicken, spicy corn chili, and lentil and brown rice casserole, rather than the stereotypical matzah ball soup or potato kugel. All the food is certified by the Star-K. 10 percent of Dickinson’s student body is Jewish. Stephanie Balmer, Dickinson’s Dean of Admissions, stated: “Given Dickinson's strong Judaic-studies program, Hebrew language and study abroad offerings in Israel and extraordinarily active Hillel chapter, we thought a certified-kosher dining option would further enrich Jewish life at the college.” West Virginia University (WVU) Dining Center started offering kosher food to students for the first time this semester, at the request of Sharon Sinay, the first student at the university to ever request this particular type of food. Sinay told WVU publication The Daily Athenaeum that “kosher is part of the Jewish religion…this is a big part of the American culture. I think it should be in every dining room and in every dorm so everyone will be able to eat.” Bradley University, in Peoria, Illinois, has also begun offering kosher food to students this semester. Rabbi Eli Langsam of Chabad, was enlisted to be the kosher supervisor at the two new kosher kitchens, one for meat and one for dairy. The food will also be available to the 700 Jews who reside in the city of Peoria.