After a grassroots campaign by Jewish students and their campus-based Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries, people wishing to have a snack of the kosher variety can choose from a selection of sandwiches at three locations at the University of Washington.

Sophomore Elizabeth Meyers, 20, reports that the seven varieties of sandwiches, including one vegan option, have generated quite a buzz at the Seattle university. The school is the latest in a list of American universities that began offering kosher options in the last two years.

“I’ve really been happy with [the sandwiches],” said Meyers, who’s already tried the grilled chicken on focaccia with Dijon aioli and sundried tomatoes, and the turkey pastrami on rye with Russian dressing. “They’re very good.

“If it’s available, it is definitely a draw [to keep kosher],” added the art history major.

While most students who keep kosher commute from home, a lot of students living on campus choose to eat kosher meat, said Chaya Estrin, co-director of Chabad serving the University of Washington. Since they opened their Rohr Chabad Jewish Center, Rabbi Elie and Chaya Estrin have been serving kosher food on Shabbat and holidays, and welcome students for meals during the week.

Unveiled just last month, the sandwiches represent the success of a campaign that began in 2002, when a group of students petitioned to bring kosher food to a new dining hall. They were unsuccessful in that effort.

Around the same time, Estrin noticed that a nearby grocery store began carrying kosher sandwiches, and looked into the possibility of bringing them to the students. But the grocery store would not sell for resale.

Then-student JB Maxwell entered the picture, and helped Estrin search for a kosher distributor that would be willing to work with the university. They found Nosh Away Catering, and connected the Reston-based business with the university’s Housing and Food Services.

Chaya, right, and Naomi Estrin make a selection from the University of Washington’s new offering of kosher sandwiches.
Chaya, right, and Naomi Estrin make a selection from the University of Washington’s new offering of kosher sandwiches.

“They really took it from there,” said Estrin. “But throughout the year, students kept asking, ‘What’s up with the Kosher thing?’ ”

Some even thought of adding their names to a petition.

“We had to keep on top of it,” remarked Estrin. “Students are very excited about it now.”

Now, Estrin wants the sandwiches to be available for staff and patients at the university’s hospital. While patients may request defrosted kosher meals, Jewish doctors and nurses who want to eat kosher must bring from home.

For her part, Meyers sees the sandwiches – which are also Halal-certified – as a teaching tool.

Said the student: “This is a great way to help diversify the campus and make others aware what kosher is.”