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COLUMN: Kosher options should be available in dining halls

Despite a Jewish undergraduate student population hovering around 10 percent, Residential Programming Services at IU serves few, if any, kosher options

“Kosher” by definition is food that abides by Jewish law. Kosher items include animals that chew their cud and have split hooves, fish with both scales and fins, and poultry cleared in the Torah — excluding birds that are predators. 

Kosher also requires meat and dairy always be separate, including in cookware.

The Kashrut, or the Torah’s dietary laws, place importance on compassion to animals. This means any butchery should ensure the animal doesn’t suffer as well as other guidelines for slaughter.

Those who observe kosher do so for a variety of reasons, but mainly because God instructs it in the Torah. Just like any faith, keeping kosher is important to people striving to have a relationship with their God. 

The only option for fully-certified kosher meals are offered from the Hillel Organization on campus for an additional fee per year. 

IU claims to be inclusive of all students regardless of race or religion, but not enough has been done to ensure IU-funded dining halls are capable to serve those who choose to eat kosher. 

In the dorms, it is required a meal plan be purchased. These meal plans are an additional $3,450 or more, not counting the several thousand dollar cost of living on campus.

Select dorms also do not even have dining halls. This means for easy, accessible food the only option is the dorm’s C-Store, if it has one. And eating fast food or readily available snacks isn’t exactly easy when it comes to being kosher.

Assitant Director of IU Hillel Joshua Dinner said he feels RPS is missing an opportunity to foster an inclusive environment. 

“The availability of kosher as well as other religiously mandated diets on college campuses, while not a requirement for the University, go a long way in an effort to best accommodate a diverse student body," he said. 

"With multiple opportunities to partner with campus religious organizations, offering these dietary specific options as part of a general meal plan would be just as easy as similar vegetarian or vegan plans, and should be encouraged.”

Jaylynn West, a Jewish senior at IU, worries about the lack of response from RPS about kosher options. 

“When I worked at Wright, they said they don’t offer kosher meals because that’s what Hillel, Aish and Chabbad are for. But who has time to run to any of these places?”

For example, Hillel and Aish are both Jewish organizations on campus located on Third Street. However, if a student is housed in the Briscoe Quad, that’s 14 blocks away. If your classes and houses are located on the north side, you shouldn’t have to walk or bus 14 blocks just to find viable food. 

Again, these meals are not free nor included in the meal plan. 

IU ensures there are vegetarian options for those who cannot eat meat or eggs. 

Yet when it comes to kosher, it’s a single box of ready-made matzoh-ball soup mix in the C-Store or Deli Night at the University’s Hillel, which students must pay for out-of-pocket.

In fact, there isn’t even any information on the RPS page on the IU website. It only discusses how the meal plans work and which option is best for each individual student, but nothing about availability of kosher meals on campus. 

The only subcategories about dietary restrictions are “vegan/vegetarian dining” and “food allergies.” 

Participating in kosher diet is important for many Jewish students that attend IU. No student should have to narrow down their university choices for fear of being unable to eat when on campus. 

IU and RPS need to assume responsibility for making sure that if they require a meal plan, it fits the dietary requirements of all students, regardless of religion. 


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