Fall 2020 Kosher Dining FAQS:

Change to the UMD Fall Schedule:
As was recently communicated by the University, students are asked to stay in their residences, whether living on campus or off campus for two weeks upon arrival. As partners of the University, Hillel will be following this protocol in all aspects of our work:

  1. Hillel’s dining facility will operate on a grab-and-go basis only.
  2. No minyanim, under Maryland Hillel’s auspices, will be offered.
  3. Shabbat meals will also be grab-and-go
  4. Virtual programming, especially geared towards freshmen, will be offered.

To keep our community safe, Hillel urges students to comply with the University’s directive and help abate the risks of COVID-19 to our campus community. We look forward to being able to come together in person (at a safe distance) soon for community, prayer and meals.

After these two weeks, we will immediately implement the plans already shared with parents, offering in-person dining and experiences in a COVID-19 sensitive way.

Q: Will Hillel provide a dine-in option?
A: Health codes are constantly evolving, but as things stand, we are authorized to host around 70 students for a meal at any one time, in two dining locations within Hillel. We are also working to secure a license to increase our outdoor seating. One of the dining locations will be oriented so that those students who reside together can dine together, while the other will be for students who do not wish to eat in a group and will facilitate increased levels of social distancing. All dining spaces will adhere to health and safety codes.

Q: What if my child can’t/ doesn’t want to eat inside Hillel?
A: New this year Hillel will have a “Grab & Go” option. We are investing in an app, where students can pre-order their meals and pickup at a designated location at Hillel. 

Q: Will dining be available for those not on a dining plan?
A: Yes, you can pay for any meal during the week at the register (does not apply to Shabbat).

Q: Will Hillel cater to particular dietary needs?
A: We do our utmost to ensure that any student who wishes to participate in kosher dining is not prevented from doing so because of dietary restrictions. We are a nut-free facility, and typically offer gluten free, allergy sensitive, and vegetarian options. Please be in touch if there are other dietary accommodations you need us to make, and we will do our absolute best.

Q: If school is closed will I get a refund?
A: In the unfortunate event that school returns to a fully virtual environment and students are asked to leave campus, we will do our utmost to maximize a refund to you. We will apportion the balance of kosher dining income, minus kosher dining expenditure, to all meal plan holders on a pro rata basis.

Q: When do you have to purchase meals by (not full meal plan)?
A: All other meal plans can be purchased at any time, but we must receive payment 48 in advance of when you plan to begin using it.

Q: What will Shabbat meals look like?
A: On Shabbat, Hillel hopes to accommodate up to 70 students in the building for dinner at one time. We will likely offer staggered time options for Shabbat dinner, should there be sufficient interest. We also run various Shabbat programs, where students can get food from Hillel to host their own meals. Traditionally, Hillel has also catered Shabbat meals at other locations on campus, and we will do so contingent on health regulations. We welcome your consideration of a donation to help provision free to student Shabbat experiences.

Q: What does Hillel recommend for the High Holidays?
A: Many families have emailed us about the High Holidays. Once again, the University has urged students to desist from traveling. Hillel will provide meals, and we are working to create intimate davening opportunities. Where students feel compelled to return home, we ask that they remain at home for the duration of the chaggim to minimize travel, which increases the risk of infection.

Q: Will Hillel be providing kitchen staff with adequate and appropriate PPE, as well as adequate break times when they can get fresh air without their PPE?
A: Yes, Kitchen staff will be provided with PPE as well as appropriate break time.

Q: Will Hillel staff be held to the same health and safety standards as students? Will Hillel staff be enforcing health and safety standards, and will there be consequences for noncompliance? 
A: Yes.

Q: I heard that kosher dining subsidizes Hillel’s operations. Is this true?
A: Maryland Hillel has tried for years to dispel this falsehood. It is simply incorrect. In a typical year, Maryland Hillel loses over $100,000 providing kosher food to our students. This year, we face additional costs due to PPE procurement and additional labor needs to comply with regulations. We are deeply indebted to those donors who assist in covering the shortfall. Were we to pass on the real cost of provisioning kosher food to students, the price would be markedly higher.

Q: Doesn’t the University or Hillel International subsidize the food?
A: The University of Maryland is a dear partner to Maryland Hillel. The administration goes out of its way to support Hillel’s efforts. However, this support stops short of direct financial support. Maryland Hillel does not receive direct funding from the University of Maryland. We are blessed that Hillel International supports some of our staff positions and programming. However, this support does not cover kosher food. Hillel must run a robust annual campaign of some $1 million to operate.