Montreal’s McGill University To Offer Kosher Meal Plan This Fall In Partnership with Chabad
by Jonah Fried
Starting this fall, McGill University will be partnering with Rabbi Shmuly Weiss and Rebbetzin Rashi Weiss at the Rohr Jewish Center, also known as Chabad at McGill, to provide a Kosher Meal Plan for students living on campus.
With Jewish students making up 9-12 per cent of the McGill student population, it’s more important than ever for residence students to have convenient, kosher options close to campus.
The Kosher Meal Plan is a “special accommodation made to residence students on the mandatory meal plan who keep Kosher,” a university spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “Unfortunately, our dining facilities are not equipped nor designed for Kosher meal preparation.”
The new Kosher option is the same price as the regular meal plan, at CAD $2,850 per semester. McGill is the only Canadian school with a proper Kosher meal plan, although in 2020 the University of Toronto introduced a comparatively limited model in some locations.
Under McGill’s new program, students will be able to use their mandatory meal plan dollars at the Chabad cafeteria, “Le Plezl,” which will expand its operations to accommodate for the increased demand. The Chabad House already hosts tens, if not hundreds of students at its weekly Shabbos evening dinners and Shabbos morning prayers and lunches—not to mention the High Holidays and other festivals.
This year’s unprecedented Kosher option is one facet of the “All You Care to Eat” (ACYTE) pilot program McGill is experimenting with, which seeks to address some of the community’s concerns about rising costs and limited choices.
Although for now observant Jews can only make use of the plan at Le Plezl, which is a 15–20-minute walk from most student residences, McGill Chabad’s Rabbi Weiss maintains that it is a step in the right direction.
“I’ve had students making significant sacrifices to follow the dietary laws,” he said. “Students becoming vegetarian; students breaking kashrus because they felt they had no choice… some students choosing not to live in residences at all… all of that can change now.
“I’ve even had Muslim students come to Chabad because our food is closer to Halal than McGill’s,” he added.
Jewish students have always had to rely on local Jewish community organizations like Chabad and Hillel for Kosher services, and the new plan does not change that. But for years, Chabad’s café was the only place offering regular, high-quality Kosher service.
And students could either pay with their own money or with their oneCard account. Residence students started the year with $500 on their oneCard and they could use these funds at Le Plezl as well as other off-campus dining locations.
The Kosher Meal Plan will make McGill a much more attractive option for Jewish students, especially those who are international or out-of-province, as most who live in dormitories are.
To ask for the new Kosher option, or for more information about the program, students and parents can contact email@example.com.
Jonah Fried recently graduated from McGill University with an Honours Bachelor of Arts in History. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.