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PSU to open 'Pure' allergy-free, kosher-certified dining station

The new dining station, Pure, is set to open in August in the East Food District inside Findlay Commons on campus. (WJAC)

STATE COLLEGE -- In January, Penn State University announced plans to add a kosher café to its new Hillel center being built in downtown State College.

Instead, the university decided to create a full-fledged kosher restaurant in one of its dining halls.

The new dining station, Pure, is set to open in August in the East Food District inside Findlay Commons on campus. Pure will be completely allergy-free and kosher-certified.

"Originally, it was intended for food allergens, to not serve eight of our most common food allergies, because the number of allergies and number of students coming to campus with allergies has grown substantially," said Lisa Wandel, director of residential dining at Penn State.

Penn State realized an allergy-free dining center would go hand-in-hand with kosher-certified.

"With kosher, you can't serve shellfish, nor dairy. And with allergens, those were two of our most common allergens," said Wandel.

Pure will not serve dairy, eggs, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, gluten or sesame on the menu.

Staff will also meet the strictest of kosher standards, even using color-coded utensils to make sure everything is done right.

Rabbis and a mashgiach will supervise the daily operation of the facility.

"They'll be coming in every day, they open up the facility, they oversee our employees -- so that we're not jeopardizing or compromising any of the requirements that are required for kosher,” said Wandel. “All of the products that we'll be ordering will be certified kosher. Our employees will all be trained."

Penn State has approximately 5,000 Jewish students. Officials said Pure shows the school’s commitment to an inclusive community.

"I think there's a really exciting prospect of that growing and being one of the best places to be Jewish in America,” said Aaron Kaufman, executive director of Penn State Hillel.

Pure isn’t just for Jewish students. It’s also open to the public.

"Everyone can eat together, so students who want to keep kosher, or need halal meat, or who are allergy-free can sit down and have a meal with all of their friends who don't eat those foods necessarily," said Kaufman.

The university said it will also absorb the higher cost of kosher and allergy-free food to ensure Pure is affordable for everyone.

Student meal plans will be accepted at Pure.

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