Dining hall will offer kosher meals

Kosher dinners will be made available to Jewish students three nights a week in the USC Village dining hall starting March 20, according to an email sent to a list of students with dietary restrictions for religious reasons. 

From the moment he arrived on campus, Shayan Kohanteb, a freshman studying business administration and an Orthodox Jewish student, noticed a lack of food he could eat in the dining halls. Since then, he’s been working with others to get kosher options in USC dining halls.

Kohanteb, now an Undergraduate Student Government senator-elect, said Varun Soni, the dean of religious life, and Rabbi Dov Wagner from the Chabad Jewish Student Center, have helped him greatly in this process.

“Dean Soni sat down with me in the very beginning and really heard me out,” Kohanteb said.  “We’ve been really pushing and working with Housing. It has to be said how much help they’ve done.”

Wagner said that prior to the change, he would pick up food from different Kosher restaurants around Los Angeles and deliver it to students three nights a week. Since the beginning of the semester, the Office of Religious Life has been subsidizing these meals, Wagner said.

He said that there are approximately 75 Orthodox students on campus and another 50 to 100 who eat only kosher meat. About 15 Orthodox students who are on meal plans will be able to take advantage of this new change.

Wagner said this will be the first time there is fresh kosher food available for students on campus. According to the email sent to students, Beverly Hills Kosher will deliver food to the dining hall every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday night.

Beverly Hills Kosher will also provide sandwiches, salads and other kosher options to the Seeds Marketplace at the Ronald Tutor Campus Center.

The cashier’s desk in the Village dining hall will have a list of students, along with their ID numbers, allowing students to receive their meals, according to the email. Students who wish to be added to the list are instructed to contact Kohentab directly.

Wagner said that adding Kosher meals to dining halls is a step toward becoming a more inclusive campus.

“The availability of kosher foods speaks also to how students who observe kosher feel accepted in this university community,” Wagner said. “I think it’s an important value at USC to celebrate diversity and to be welcoming to students of all kinds of backgrounds.”

Kohanteb said he’s grateful for these new options, but will continue to work to have kosher options for students more than three nights a week, and to provide halal options for Muslim students.

“No matter how grateful I am,” Kohanteb said. “I always look toward progressing this way past where it is now to the point where we have a long-term, sustainable program on campus.”