Rutgers Dining Services adds kosher options to 5 on-campus dining retail locations
Last month, Rutgers dining retail locations across all five New Brunswick campuses began offering kosher-certified food, according to a statement from Rutgers Dining Services.
Kosher options are now available at Cafe West on the College Avenue campus, Douglass Cafe on Douglass campus, Cook Cafe on Cook campus, Kilmer's Market on Livingston campus and Woody's Cafe on Busch campus.
The addition of kosher food at these locations was the result of a collaboration between Rutgers Dining Services and the University's Chabad House that spanned several months.
"The goal of this partnership is to provide more affordable and more readily available kosher options for the Rutgers-New Brunswick community," said Megan Schumann, a University spokesperson on behalf of Rutgers Dining Services.
Buzzy Brickman, a Rutgers Business School sophomore and Rutgers Hillel board member, was instrumental in the implementation of kosher options.
He said that as someone who keeps kosher and spends a lot of time on Livingston campus at the Rutgers Business School, he had personally found it difficult to seek out kosher options during the school day.
"Before this initiative, it was a very big struggle for Jewish kids on campus who kept dietary restrictions to get kosher food on pretty much any other campus besides (the College Avenue campus)," he said.
Many Jewish students utilize the Chabad House meal plan, which has offered kosher-certified meals since 1996.
But the plan is only available at the Chabad House on the College Avenue campus, according to Rabbi Yosef Carlebach, the executive director of the center.
"We know that there are thousands of students that would purchase a kosher meal if it was more readily available," he said.
Brickman said that while kosher food is available at all the dining halls at Rutgers—New Brunswick, its quality and taste are so poor that he avoids eating it.
Last fall, he met with Joseph Charette, Rutgers Dining Services CEO, to discuss implementing more kosher options across the entire New Brunswick campus.
Brickman said he left the meeting hoping that if he could find a way to produce kosher food, it would be possible to offer it across campuses. Next, he met with the Chabad House to discuss designing kosher food items for take-out.
The Chabad House came up with the current menu it now serves at retail locations, which includes Kaiser rolls with lettuce and tomato, as well as baguettes with pastrami, lettuce and tomato and a plain bagel with lox, cream cheese and tomato, according to the University statement.
All the kosher food sold in Rutgers retail locations is made fresh on the Chabad House's premises and has the same kosher certification as the meals served in-house through the Chabad meal plan, Carlebach said. The food is certified by Rabbi Mendy Carlebach, an in-house Rabbi, and is delivered fresh to each retail location daily.
"The Rutgers Chabad, which is providing (the meal options) is generously subsidizing the cost of the sandwiches, so (students) are not paying anything extra for kosher food," Brickman said. "It just shows how much they care about providing kosher food on campus."
He said that kosher food can be expensive for many reasons, including the fact that kosher meat is produced on a smaller scale on kosher-certified farms and that a Rabbi must be hired to supervise the food's preparation.
Both Brickman and Rabbi Yosef Carlebach hope to see the expansion of meals at Rutgers, including halal-certified options that follow Islamic dietary law — an idea that Carlebach said he has discussed with Imams on campus.
"I feel it's just the beginning," Carlebach said. "We can expand this into hot (kosher) dishes at some point in the future … We're also trying to provide a halal certification on (foods)."