Students who keep kosher lack options for dining out in College Park. Here are some ideas to fix that

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A kosher food truck is one of several options that could help give orthodox students an on-campus dining out experience. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

By Mitzpeh staff
@Mitzpeh

Route 1 sees a constant flux of eateries opening and closing, trying to appeal to students by offering a wide variety of specialties like pizza, cafes, ramen, smoothies and more. But one key cuisine for many Jewish students is lacking: kosher.

Many of the roughly 500 Orthodox students who keep strict kosher are left without a place to dine. Limited to the kosher cafeteria at Hillel, whatever snacks they can manage to scrounge from the Commons Shop or for students who live in apartments, their own kitchens, strictly kosher students cannot enjoy the same eating out experiences as other students. The closest kosher options for students require a twenty minute drive to Silver Spring or a trek into D.C.

Many wonder why a kosher restaurant hasn’t joined the many non-kosher eateries near campus. It’s no secret that maintaining a restaurant on Route 1 is difficult; the rapid turnover of other shops in the area is likely a testament to challenges of low space, high rent and high competition.

It’s also possible that the demand isn’t high enough. While there are many Jews on campus, few keep strict kosher. And even among the Jewish students who do refrain from eating non-kosher meat, many are comfortable eating vegetarian or vegan products from restaurants that aren’t certified kosher.

Yet, many students remain who keep strict kosher or would benefit from a kosher meat option. Surely the demand is high enough for even one kosher restaurant in the large pool of non-kosher options. We have a few ideas of what a feasible kosher option on campus might look like.

A deli would serve students who are looking for affordable kosher meat. Whether students choose to take out or dine in, a deli would offer basic meat options for students low on time and on a budget. Like most kosher restaurants, the deli could serve sushi too.

A food truck at the Tawes farmer’s market would most likely gain a lot of traction, considering the food truck at the market has many customers. With this option, it would be convenient for students to get fresh, delicious food on campus.

There are several successful kosher restaurants in the broader Maryland area. But the thought of driving all the way to Silver Spring or Rockville can be daunting for students who don’t have cars or who don’t want to schlep. Instead, these eateries could form smaller pop-up shops to sell their food on campus to hungry, strict kosher students on campus.

The options would also prove useful for holidays like Passover, which requires an even stricter diet than usual. If these options were presented, students who observe Passover would have less trouble finding affordable and delicious food to eat.

While having a kosher restaurant close to campus would be nice in terms of convenience for students, it comes down to cost. The options listed would be extremely helpful and more convenient than before.

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