Penn State University
Penn State University iStock

Pennsylvania State University has begun providing a kosher food option for campus dining on a one-year trial basis.

Penn State Senior Aaron Goldberg of Philadelphia last year approached Lisa Wandel, director of residential dining, about the need for a kosher dining option, bringing 10 pages of requests from other students and ideas about how the provision of kosher food could be approached, the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent reported. Goldberg said he had met Jewish students who would have liked to attend Penn State but chose other places because they could not get kosher prepared food on campus.

The dining space, called Pure, opened last month at the start of the new school year. It is part of a new campus dining hall that also provides Halal-certified meat for Muslim students, as well as a food allergen-free station. The kosher dining will be open for Sunday brunch and dinner Monday through Thursday. If the trial is successful, the dining service is considering providing packages kosher lunches as well, Wandel told the newspaper.

The campus Housing & Food Services invested in a new kitchen area, new pots, pans and appliances and decided to use disposable plates and flatware to prevent mixups. The kosher food preparation is under the supervision of the Star-K organization of Baltimore, which will provide a mashgiach, or kosher supervisor, for the kitchen.

“The University is committed to supporting cultural and religious diversity among its students, and we are very excited to be creating new spaces for students to come together to share meals, customs and ideas,” Penn State President Eric Barron said in a statement issued by the university. “The kosher kitchen is a positive example of what can come from creating opportunities to have open dialogues about how to foster a welcoming campus environment.”

There are about 5,000 Jewish students, some 10 percent of the campus population, at Penn State.