Kosher Dining


Kosher Meal Plan Information

On behalf of the Maryland Hillel Dining Team, thank you for participating in our dining program. We’re excited to introduce our delicious meal plan options, which include a contemporary, crowd-pleasing selection of many of your favorite foods along with some of our own tasty specialties.

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 do

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.

 


General Frequently Asked Questions

How is pricing for the Kosher dining plans calculated and are meals transferable? 
Maryland Hillel contracts with Sodexo Campus Services who manages our Kosher Dining services. Prices are calculated by analyzing the number of students and meals, food cost, and Mashgiach expenses per school year. Currently, Maryland Hillel does not have an endowment fund that supplements the cost of the Kosher Dining Program. All costs are for services rendered. Meals are not transferable and cannot be used by anyone other than the dining plan participant.

Why do we need to purchase a Platinum Full Meal Plan?
The University requires all students living in a traditional dorm room (rooms not equipped with a kitchen) to be registered for a full meal plan. If your student lives on campus in a traditional dorm room and chooses a Kosher meal plan, he/she must have a Platinum Meal Plan with Maryland Hillel.

Our UMD billing statement reflects a University dining charge, but we purchased a Kosher Dining Plan. How do we receive credit for this charge?
By default, the University will automatically charge a Full University Dining Plan to a student living in a traditional dorm room without a kitchen. In order to credit this charge, parents must purchase a Platinum Meal Plan through Maryland Hillel to meet the University’s full meal plan requirement. Upon receipt of payment for a Platinum Meal Plan, Maryland Hillel will inform UMD Dining Services of your full meal plan purchase. Upon notification, the University will credit your student’s account within 7-10 business days.

Are holiday and Shabbat meals included in the Kosher dining plan?
Holiday meals are “tricky.” Often times, demand from the students’ schedules determines if the dining hall is open or not. In order for the dining hall to be open, it requires a critical mass of participants. Often times, students leave campus to observe with their families/friends and therefore Sodexo is forced to suspend service.

Shabbat meals are included in the Platinum Meal Plan. If the dining hall is OPEN during holidays, then meals are included in the Meal Plan. For those students on partial plans (Gold, Silver, or Bronze), certain holidays will have an up charge as prices of those meals are more expensive. Students on the Gold, Silver, or Bronze MAY use their meals towards any Shabbat meal and need to register in advance through our weekly Shabbat Meal Sign Up form.

Under which Kosher Supervision is Maryland Hillel certified? Is there a Mashgiach on the premises?
Maryland Hillel’s Kashrut is supervised under the Va’ad of Greater Washington. There is always a Mashgiach on duty, which includes several part-time student Mashgichim.

Are students entitled to a refund for missed meals and do unused meals roll over to the next semester?
No. The all you care to eat model was created to allow students full access to food/meals whenever they want. Refunds and/or credits are not given for missed and unused meals and flex dollars. Unused meals, guest meals, and flex dollars do not roll over to the next semester.

Do I need my University ID card to get into Hillel’s dining hall?
Yes. All students are issued a University ID card. This card is an identification card as well as a meal card, library card, and an access card to campus facilities/events. It is very important to keep it with you at all times. Please note that your ID belongs to you. No one else can use your ID to gain access to your meal plan.

Will my Kosher Meal Plan work on campus?
The Kosher meal plan does NOT work at any other campus dining hall or at campus restaurants. Likewise, University Dining Plans, Points and University Dollars will not work at Hillel.

My child eats only Kosher meat and non-Kosher dairy/vegetarian. What are my meal plan options?
Students who live in a traditional dorm room without a kitchen are required to have a full meal plan either with the University or with Maryland Hillel. Students may supplement the University full meal plan with a Hillel Gold or Bronze Plan at Maryland Hillel. Kosher students may also choose the full Hillel Platinum Plan and supplement it with a University Partial Plan.

What if my student has class all the way across campus and can’t logistically make it for a meal?
Maryland Hillel is committed to providing meals for all students. If needed, students can work out special arrangements that could include packing up a “to go” lunch for the next meal, or picking up meals earlier or later than a meal is offered. These special accommodations can be made directly with Maddie Friedman (Program/Operations Associate) or Liz Donaldson (Office Manager).

What if there is a problem with my meal plan/meal plan account?
We strongly encourage the student to come in or email the staff directly.