New semester welcomes new dining changes
Since last semester, the University has made dining changes across campus, including additions to dining halls and a large-scale switch to a new kosher supervision agency.
“A few small optimizations” have been made, said Director of University Services Kevin Collen, in an interview with The Justice. The department worked with Sodexo and students on the Senate Dining committee to consider requests from the student body.
Significant for students on a meal plan, an evening meal period has been added in response to students asking for a late-night swipe option.
Previously, students who swiped into dining halls after 5 p.m. could not swipe again until after midnight.
On Aug. 23, the University officially established KVH Kosher as its new contracting agency to provide kosher supervision to Sherman Dining Hall, Louis’ Kosher Deli and the University’s bakery.
In answer to why the switch in agency occurred, Collen said that, “Primarily, we wanted a kosher-certified agency that reported to Brandeis and not to Sodexo.”
“The prior organization went right to Sodexo, and we felt the accountability structure there was not in sync with what we needed to serve the community,” he added.
The University wanted to bring its kosher certification process to the highest possible standard, said Collen. “We have colleagues that work with KVH in the Boston area. We’ve been very pleased with what they’ve proposed to bring to campus and so far they’ve delivered.”
KVH Kosher is a division of the Rabbinical Council of New England.
According to its website, the organization has almost a century of expertise and operates its services both locally and internationally.
Under KVH, there will be broader mashgiach coverage across all kosher facilities “almost all of the time,” said Collen.
The agency change accounts for the recent switch to disposable dishware and utensils in Sherman dining hall.
“Paper and plastic is really not the prettiest solution, … but from what we understand from my colleagues at other institutions and from KVH, that’s their national standard. Every consumer-facing organization they certify has disposables. For now, that’s the permanent solution,” said Collen.
Also based on KVH’s policies, all of Sherman’s kosher meals will adhere to a strict separation of either a meat or dairy day, whereas under the prior agency, breakfast as meat or dairy would often deviate from lunch and dinner service.
Collen also confirmed that Dunkin’ Donuts will remain fully non-kosher.
Additionally, Collen reported that the Dunkin’ Donuts move in January has been extremely positive. “A big win there,” he said. “Just in the six-month window, we did twice the business we did in the prior year all together.”
In the empty Village Quad space that remains, the University intends to create a new study space. Couches, tables, chairs and a flat screen TV are to be installed, and food and beverage vending with kosher options will also be provided in the space, said Collen.
According to a University Services memo Collen shared with the Justice, there have also been a number of small changes to dining across campus.
In Sherman and Usdan dining halls, there is a new turkey burger special at the grill and a “make your own pizza” event once a month. Usdan will also showcase more “global flavors” on Tuesdays and Thursdays at its wok station, according to the memo.
The Hoot Market has received New England Coffee as well as Russo’s organic produce. Additionally, it is noted in the memo that there will be “higher vendor engagement” with product displays.
In Upper Usdan, Louis’ Kosher Deli will feature specials biweekly, and Sub Connection has added vegan proteins.
Einstein Bros. Bagels has introduced sweet potato, pumpkin and “clean” four-ingredient bagels, as well as schmearfuls, bagel holes filled with cream cheese. They have also removed iced coffee in favor of cold brew coffee, per the memo.
Lastly, Kutz Bakery will introduce featured from-scratch cookies to dining halls each day, homemade pies every Wednesday and vegan dessert selections.
— Justice Contributing Writer Chaiel Shaffel contributed reporting.