In a ceremony at the Kosher Dining Hall yesterday afternoon, Cornell Dining announced its partnership with FLIK International Corporation, a leading kosher food service management company, to expand the kosher food program on campus.
The relationship was forged this summer. With the help of FLIK — named for founder Rudy Flik, husband of Julie Milligan Flik ’63 — Cornell Dining can offer kosher food in a wider variety of locations. The new kosher program also has a multicultural focus, providing meal options for students who follow Halal (Muslim), Hindu, Seventh Day Adventist, Roman Catholic and other dietary restrictions.
“For some of us in this room, this is a dream come true, after many years,” said Prof. Joe Regenstein, food science, who was integral in the planning and implementation of the new kosher program.
Kosher food was previously available only at the Kosher Dining Hall (KDH) and a few cash-op facilities. Cold kosher food is now available at more locations, such as the Ivy Room. The new Northstar dining hall in the Community Commons has joined the KDH in serving hot kosher food.
In the United States, “no school but Cornell serves hot [kosher] food in two places,” said Nadeem Siddiqui, director of Cornell Dining. “We’re unique in that sense,” he said.
All kosher food for Cornell is prepared at the KDH and is then distributed across campus. Rabbi Avi Scharf, the resident Rabbi at the Center for Jewish Living, sets the rules for the mashgiachim, or religious supervisors, who oversee the FLIK chefs. The mashgiachim ensure that food is prepared according to the standards of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations (OU).
The “It’s Kosher” line at Northstar serves 175 or more students each day during lunch and sometimes feeds 300 students at dinnertime, according to Richard Anderson, Northstar manager. It’s Kosher allows freshmen who keep kosher to eat close to home, alongside friends who might select different foods.
“Part of the whole North Campus ideal is that they should be able to interact,” Regenstein said. “Seeing people of all kinds of racial and ethnic [backgrounds] going through the Kosher line and enjoying these Kosher foods” is part of the program’s aspiration.
“For anybody who eats there, stereotypes are broken, and their concept of the world is broadened,” said Rabbi Ed Rosenthal, director of Hillel.
The expanded kosher program has made life easier for many students.
“My freshman and sophomore years I lived in Risley, so I had to walk all the way down here [to the KDH],” Abby Kornfeld ’02 said. “That’s a long walk,” she said, remembering in particular the slippery trip down Libe Slope in winter. “They’re just making it more and more accessible.”
New kosher meal plan options allow students to eat at the KDH every day, or only on holidays.
The KDH, previously run by students, is now operated by professionals from FLIK.
“This whole dining program allows students to be students,” said John Sharret ’03, who served as treasurer for the Center for Jewish Living and KDH. Instead of worrying about tax receipts, he can focus on studying for prelims, he said.
Although FLIK brought several staff members to work in the KDH kitchen, they retained some employees who worked at dining hall when it was student-run.
Bill Beadle, FLIK food service director at the KDH, said he has worked for FLIK for 15 years but did not prepare Kosher food before he came to Cornell.
“You just have to keep it separate,” Beadle said, referring to the rule that meat and dairy products cannot be served together. Beadle will take Regenstein’s class in January to learn more about kosher and Halal food production. “I’m 50, but it’s never too late to learn,” he said.
In keeping with the new kosher program’s multicultural focus, the KDH will prepare the food for Muslim Ramadan services on Nov. 17 at Anabel Taylor Hall.
Archived article by Heather Schroeder