New kosher meal plan lures students to dining halls

Abbie Vansickle

Northwestern’s kosher meal plan, enacted two weeks ago, has exceeded expectations in both student interest and food quality.

“I think it’s been wonderful,” said Klein, director of the Tannenbaum Chabad House. “So far it’s gone above and beyond expectations.”

NU’s Kosher Kiosks program was implemented on a trial basis in April in three campus dining halls: Sargent Hall, 1835 Hinman and Allison Hall. Rabbi Dov Klein said there are no plans to open kiosks in other dining halls.

Klein said that although Sodexho Marriott estimated only 10 or 11 students would sign up for the kosher plan, 27 have joined the program.

In addition to benefiting students already at NU, the kosher plan also might be a factor in a student’s decision to enroll in NU, Klein said.

“Just today I got a call from a prospective student’s parent,” Klein said. “They said that, because Northwestern has a kosher program, their student will definitely come to Northwestern.”

Klein said he was surprised by the number of students interested in the program and only sees it getting better.

The kosher plan already has expanded. In addition to the kosher cabinets, purple kosher stickers have been appearing in all of the dining halls.

The stickers, found on items such as orange juice and frozen yogurt, tell students that the item is kosher. The stickers are placed on items that come pre-packaged to Sodexho Marriott and are prepared in a way that keeps the food kosher.

“The stickers will add variety and increase the visibility of the program,” said Mark Dredze, a McCormick junior and member of the committee that developed the program.

Dredze also said the program has passed the major obstacles it faced.

“I think we’re past the hard part,” Dredze said. “The commitment is out there and we just have to keep bettering (the kosher program).”

But Klein said he still sees room for improvement.

“We’re trying to get more variety,” Klein said. “If we add variety, our students can expand (their diet).”

NU has long trailed other universities in its range of kosher options, but that started to change when a Sodexho Marriott employee developed a kosher plan modeled on Harvard University’s program.