Dining services offer reimbursement for religious observants

By Tanika Ely

Students observing religious holidays have been receiving some assistance from the University’s residence hall dining services.

For the past few years, the dining halls have offered reimbursements for students observing Ramadan and the Jewish Passover, according to Kirsten Ruby, assistant director of housing for marketing.

Oct. 16 marked the beginning of Ramadan, the one-month period during which Muslims fast. Dining services hope to help these students by giving money back for the meals they cannot eat in observance of the holiday.

“This is a great option for students who live in the dorms,” said Omar Galaria, president of the Muslim Student Association (MSA).

Galaria explained that the dining hall programs provide flexibility for Muslims during the spiritual month.

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Although the MSA can contact dining services on a student’s behalf, Ruby said students can also contact dining services directly. Ruby said students can e-mail their name, address and the number and type of meals they will miss to housing officials and the money from missed meals will be credited to their University account.

“We can also offer sack lunches to students who observe Ramadan and Kosher meals for (students) taking part in Jewish Passover,” Ruby said.

Jewish students observing Passover can also receive reimbursements. For the eight days during Passover in the spring semester, selected dining halls will offer Kosher meal options for students, Ruby said. The campus Hillel Foundation also sponsors Kosher dinners Monday through Friday.

Etay Luz, senior in engineering and president of the Chabad Jewish Student Association, said he believes there have been gradual improvements in the services provided to students observing religious holidays.

“Jewish students have always had to go home for Passover,” Luz said.

Last year, Kosher meal options were offered at Forbes Hall and were a tremendous success with a lot of students who attended the event, Luz said.

“Programs (like these) are a great way for Jewish students to get connected,” he said.

However, the reimbursement rate is not the same as the price of each meal. The reimbursement for each meal is only $1.85 for lunch and $2.75 for dinner. The regular prices for meals are $6.95 and $9.95 respectively, according to the University Dining Services.

“(Dining Services) should look after students’ needs and reimburse them the full amount,” Luz said. “Students shouldn’t have to pay for meals they don’t eat.”

Galaria took a more cautious approach.

“It’s great that students get part of their money back,” he said. “Although it would be awesome if students could get all of their money back.”