Meal swipes return to Hillel dining

A meat selection will now be available every night

· January 29, 2014, 5:13 pm   ·  Updated January 29, 2014, 9:12 pm

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Students can now swipe their way into Hillel’s Falk Dining Commons.

After months of student dissatisfaction about the dining program at Hillel, Bon Appétit and Penn Dining introduced new changes that will see the return of meal swipes at Falk.
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These changes, which were implemented Jan. 15, allow students to use meal swipes for both lunch and dinner, and dinner will be all-you-care-to-eat every night. Due to the additional steps for preparing kosher food, a $3 Dining Dollars surcharge will be added to each meal swipe.

Breaking from Falk’s history of alternating meat and dairy days, a meat selection will be offered every night. On Tuesday and Thursday nights, there will also be an expanded variety of dairy options. Per kosher dietary laws, the meat and dairy lines will be separated.

Falk will be keeping grab-and-go options for lunch, but there will also be a “Take 5” Meal Equivalency, where students can select an entree, either three sides or a dessert and a beverage, for the cost of a meal swipe plus the $3 surcharge. Friday night Shabbat dinners are unchanged.

Last semester, Penn Dining switched the dining program at Falk to a completely a-la-carte system like that of Houston Market. This resulted in widespread discontent and low attendance at Falk, and the communal feel of Hillel suffered.

Recognizing these issues, a group of Hillel leaders “decided we needed to engage with the University to improve the dining situation,” said College junior Hillel Neumark, chair of Hillel’s Dining Advisory Board and kosher liaison to the University Dining Hall Advisory Board.

The group presented its proposed changes to officials for both Bon Appétit and Penn Dining last semester, and negotiated the changes in a series of meetings.

Neumark said the Hillel leaders’ three main proposed changes were accepting meal swipes at all meals, an expanded variety of dairy options and the return of all-you-care-to-eat dinners at Falk. The final change was very important to the Hillel leaders because they felt these dinners were “critical for bringing the communal feel back to Hillel,” Neumark said.

“Throughout this process we viewed our goal as the same goal [Penn Dining] had — to make kosher dining more economically feasible and ultimately create a thriving dining experience [for all students],” he said.

“Penn Dining was very receptive and incredibly open to student feedback,” added Co-Chair of the Orthodox Community at Penn and College junior Etan Raskas in an email. Raskas was also part of the group of Hillel leaders involved in the process.

The new dining program at Falk is unique because it incorporates an “unprecedented level of student input and collaboration between students and the University,” Neumark said.

“The changes have been very well received and we believe this is due in large part to the partnership we had with students which enabled us to develop dining options that balance the needs of the University, the community and our individual diners,” Director of Hospitality Services Pam Lampitt, who oversees Penn Dining, said in an email statement.

The Hillel community has embraced the new changes, and Hillel is continuing to encourage more people to sign up for meal plans.

“So far it’s been a really positive response from everybody,” Hillel President and Engineering junior Alon Krifcher said. “There’s increased attendance across the board.”

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