Going to college is an adjustment for everyone, but one of the hardest adjustments for me wasn’t where I lived, but what I ate. Keeping kosher in Peirce Dining Hall involves not eating pork or shellfish as well as not eating dishes made with a combination of meat and dairy. For the modern Jew, it seems like there are more kosher rules to follow than physically possible, and when talking about keeping kosher at Kenyon, I think that’s true.
There is no way Peirce Dining Hall can go completely kosher and still feed the number of students it needs to, so that is not my goal. Instead, Peirce should include more kosher options at meals so that there are no students who have to leave the dining hall hungry or eat food that goes against their faith when misinformed.
As an incoming first year, I had no trouble finding food to eat during orientation. However, once the parents had left campus, meal options included multiple pork dishes, as well as meals where pork is mixed with another meat. Pork meals were also served more than once a day, and many meals that were made contained both meat and dairy. It is commonly known that pork is not kosher, but it is often forgotten that under the law of Kashrut no meat can be consumed with milk. Some of Peirce’s most common dishes, such as meat-based pasta dishes, the Buffalo chicken pasta and turkey corn casserole, include dairy with kosher-allowed meat. On top of this, I have a dairy allergy, and finding food gets even harder when I can’t eat most of the pizza and non-meat meal options made with dairy products. This leaves very limited options left over for me to eat.
This problem could be almost completely solved by the vegetarian station, which has plans to go vegan. AVI has been discussing making the vegetarian station vegan for several years, but this has not happened yet.
Last semester I participated in a video call with Ever Croffoot-Suede ’23, the chair of the housing and dining committee, and followed up with an email detailing my concerns. I have received no follow up from anyone involved with this issue. My email included the story of my accidentally ingesting pork at Peirce in a meal where it was mixed with ground beef. There was no indication that this dish contained pork, and I was only informed that there might be pork in the dish once I asked the server. If pork caused a fatal allergic reaction in the way peanuts or tree nuts do, this would not have been left up to chance.
My hope for next semester is that no incoming students who keep kosher go through the same troubles that I have.
I am asking AVI to not mix pork with any other meats, and to add a pork label to the existing food alerts on each servery station’s signage. I am also asking that the vegetarian station goes vegan, and that there be more dairy-free meat dishes in the monthly rotation. Perhaps, in the future, AVI could start with having more constant dairy-free options at meals, as opposed to the restrictive dietary rotation that now exists.
Catherine Norton ’26 is an undeclared major from Falls Church, Va. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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