By Jonathan Bradley
After years of waiting, students at Ryerson will now have access to kosher food options.
The Hub Café has introduced kosher food after Hillel Ryerson, a student group for Jewish student life on-campus, asked Ryerson Eats to look into adding the option to their menu.
“Over the summer, Ryerson Eats was approached by members of Hillel Ryerson asking if we’d be open to exploring the introduction of kosher menu items at Ryerson’s campus eateries,” said Marwan El Chafei, Ryerson Eats associate director of food services.
According to El Chafei, kosher food items were officially made available at the Hub Café as of Nov. 4.
Kosher refers to food that complies with the dietary standards of traditional Jewish law.
“Kosher food options in the area surrounding Ryerson are quite limited and require Jewish community members to venture far from campus to meet their dietary needs,” he said.
Although there are different levels of kosher, according to OU Kosher, a kosher certification agency, those who follow a kosher diet eat land mammals with split hooves and who chew their cud—such as cows and goats. Fish are also required to have fins and scales, meaning shellfish is not kosher; and birds must not be of a predatory nature—such as hawks and owls. Milk products and meat also cannot be mixed.
Animals that can be eaten are slaughtered in a prescribed manner, says OU Kosher. The animal’s death is instant and they feel “no pain.”
El Chafei said that Ryerson Eats held multiple meetings with Hillel Ryerson to discuss menu options and suppliers of kosher meals.
Based on recommendations from Hillel Ryerson and research by Ryerson Eats into kosher suppliers, Grodzinski Bakery, a Toronto bakery that makes kosher products, was selected as the vendor.
El Chafei said the kosher meals that will be served are sandwiches, salads, baked goods and snacks. These items were selected in consultation with Hillel Ryerson to best serve their needs, and items are competitively priced.
The kosher options are more expensive than the vegetarian and halal options. For example, the kosher corned beef sandwich costs $9.95. The halal tuna salad sandwich costs $5.49, and the vegetarian egg salad sandwich is $4.99.
Sarah Krupat, co-president of Hillel Ryerson, said she tried the kosher corned beef sandwich offered at the Hub Café, which she described as “delicious.”
“It’s important that Jewish students feel comfortable on-campus, and a way to do this is to offer kosher meals,” said Krupat. “It is a sign of equality on campus and a representation of the campus. It is always important to be inclusive in every way possible to different cultural groups, and offering kosher meals helps do this for Hillel.”
Ryerson Eats staff have also been made aware of kosher food handling standards, and its deliveries are stored separately to avoid cross-contamination, according to El Chafei.
Abbey Humphreys-Morris, a third-year arts and contemporary studies student, said that she tried the kosher meals the day they were made available.
“They’re fresh and good, [there’s] a lot of options,” she said. “…I am very happy to finally see kosher options being readily available in a central campus location operated by Ryerson, not a separate location where you need to travel further than other students.”
Prior to the Hub Café offering kosher meals, Ryerson students would often leave campus to seek other options. The restaurants around Ryerson that offer kosher meals are King David Pizza, Habitant, Foodwares and Second Cup.
El Chafei believes bringing kosher meals to Ryerson will allow it to be a more welcoming place.
“Ryerson Eats strives to offer inclusive and accessible food options to the campus community, and we’re very pleased that the introduction of kosher menu items will have a positive impact on the Ryerson experience for our Jewish community,” he said.
Krupat said that Hillel Ryerson has told Jewish students about the kosher meals at a loft hangout space for Hillel Ryerson members, as well as through advertising on social media. She said that it was “about time” the Hub Café had kosher meals.
“Being able to offer kosher meals is a large aspect of being inclusive to the Jewish community on campus, and it makes this community feel more welcome at school since they now have easier access [to] finding food.”