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Kosher meal plans become available

By Kimberly Young

Sep. 26, 2007 9:55 pm

Jewish students who follow kosher diets will no longer have to live off salad and cold sandwiches. Beginning this fall, Covel and Hedrick dining halls will offer dinners that fit kosher requirements.

This is the first time hot kosher meals will be available through the dining hall.

Meals will only be available for dinner Monday through Thursday because dinner is already offered at Hillel at UCLA for free on Friday nights and kosher lunches are available at The Shack at Hillel.

On Tuesday, Jewish leaders on campus and from Hillel gathered at Covel dining hall to celebrate the new meal option.

“People have wanted to bring kosher food to the dining halls for decades,” said Ariel Hecht, a fourth-year biology major and president of the Jewish Student Union. “This has taken a lot of hard work and dedication from a lot of people.”

The Kosher meals are catered by an outside company, Bistro Baguette Café.

“I saw a lot of students going to UCLA and having to eat in restaurants because they were not able to eat in the dining hall,” said Judith Boteach, master caterer for the cafe.

“I felt they really missing out on not participating and being able to eat at UCLA,” she added.

She said students chose the menu and that the portions are purposefully big because students cannot get seconds. Boteach said she hopes the meals will also become popular with vegans, vegetarians and other students with special dietary restrictions because the food is organic, dairy free, environmentally conscious and meets halal requirements for Muslim students.

In order for meat to be kosher there must be no blemishes or abnormalities on the animal, no pain in killing it, and no blood (kosher meat is put in salt to remove blood), Boteach said. In addition one cannot eat shellfish such as shrimp and lobster and cannot eat dairy at the same time as meat, Boteach said.

Stacy Klein, a fourth-year sociology major and president of Hillel, a UCLA Jewish student organization, said she believed more university applicants would apply because more students with dietary restrictions will be comfortable coming here. She said it was difficult to eat with friends in the dining hall because of dietary restrictions.

“This really allows you to eat with everyone else,” she said.

Hillel helped arrange the program and has been trying to get kosher food in the dining halls for years.

“We wanted this program as a service to the students. For years students have been complaining they couldn’t fully participate at UCLA,” said Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller, the Hillel director. He said in the past students who choose to keep kosher have eaten just salad and that this will make living in the dorms more comfortable for them.

The dining hall has a locked microwave and special fridge for the kosher food so that it does not mix with the other food, said Laura Quijas, food service manager at Covel.

“We are happy to offer it to the students,” Quijas said. “We feel students are our kids. Students asked for it so we tried to make it happen. So far it is going very well.”

Yitzi Wolf, a first-year math student, is one of the students who has a kosher meal plan.

“It’s nice getting a hot meal,” he said.

First-year undeclared student Sam Feinberg said it was almost as good as his mom’s cooking.

Aisa Valentin, executive chef at Covel dining hall, said so far the program is going smoothly. “The food looks great and the portion sizes are really good. People are seeing the kosher food and asking about it,” she said.

The dining hall plans to put the kosher menu on the dining hall Web site.

Lilia Sobecki-Engle, a first-year nursing major, said she would not be getting the meal plan because she has no dietary restrictions but she thought it was a good program to have. “I think it’s a good program. If that’s people’s lifestyle, then they should have this option.”

The Kosher Bruin Plus Supplemental Meal plan is available for an additional fee of $423 for fall quarter. Students receive a sticker on their BruinCard and a Bruin Plus Punch Card. To sign up, students can go to the UCLA Housing Cashier’s Office and register.

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