Meal plan at Laurier to accommodate kosher students

Keeping kosher on campus will no longer be a challenge, thanks to new initiatives by Food Services and student services at Wilfrid Laurier University. Students can purchase kosher meals at the Fresh Food Company located in the Dining Hall and have access to a kosher-designated microwave which is otherwise locked.

The program was part of an option students saw when applying for residence.

“New this year with residence applications … there were over 100 students that identified dietary concerns,” said Dan Dawson, assistant vice president of student services. Dietary concerns included traditions such as Kosher and Halal.

The program currently has about 60 students, with more expected as fall progresses.

“All of the students using this program are in apartment-style residence, where they can cook their meals, so while they’re on campus this is to supplement them,” Dawson said.

The program involves the active participation of the Diversity and Equity office and the help of Rabbi Moshe Goldman of the Chaplain’s office. Dawson added, “We started late August with the meals, pre-packaged, kind of like a high-end TV dinner. There has to be some balance in the meal and it has to follow more specific kosher specifications. We’ll be expanding the program as we try new items.”

As of last year students were able to purchase Halal-certified food on campus, and Food Services hopes to introduce more options for students with dietary restrictions.

“Our culinary director David Hutchinson has been very active in the last couple weeks sourcing gluten free products, and you’ll notice even today the cereal station has three boxes of gluten free cereal, and the stations have rice pasta available. We’re getting in specialty breads, waffles, pancakes for students as well,” said Ryan Lloyd-Craig, director of Food Services.

Lloyd-Craig also mentioned that Food Services is working on introducing local and organic seasonal vegetables to the menu, sourcing from farms within a 10 kilometre radius of the university.

In terms of cost, both to students and to the university, Dawson and Lloyd-Craig explained that there is a minimal ten per cent mark-up needed to cover the expense of the kosher program, as the pre-packaged meals must be delivered from Montreal.

“We’re not looking to make a profit on it, we’re seeing at something we need to provide for the students, and that’s what we’re going to do,” said Dawson.

Students with allergies and special dietary requirements are encouraged to talk to Food Services chefs and managers to explore what options are out there and to inform both offices of student needs.

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