The Joseph E. Slifka Center for Jewish Life at Yale is still bringing out lox for Bagel Brunch Sundays, but behind the scenes, change has come to the Kosher Kitchen.
In the past, students on a University meal plan could transfer the balance of their meal contracts to Slifka by signing up for membership in the independently operated Kosher Kitchen. Slifka then paid Yale Dining every time a Kosher Kitchen member swiped into a Yale dining hall.
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But this semester, Slifka head Rabbi James Ponet said, Yale Dining will be funding the Kosher Kitchen on a per-meal basis. The move is part of a cost-cutting effort at Yale Dining, which has recently taken measures to keep money within University-operated dining halls.
Since 1995, the Slifka Center has funded the Kosher Kitchen, a mainstay of Jewish life at Yale since 1964. It is the only kosher dining option for the substantial Jewish population on campus.
Due to Slifka’s “Byzantine system of accounting,” Ponet said he is unsure about exactly how much Yale Dining will need to contribute to fund the Kosher Kitchen. The Kosher Kitchen costs about $500,000 to operate annually, Ponet said.
Rafi Taherian, executive director of Yale Dining, declined to discuss specifics of the financial arrangement between Slifka and Yale Dining. Taherian said in an e-mail that his department ruled out providing a separate kosher option in the dining halls because of Slifka’s satisfactory track record of serving Yale students.
“Yale Dining appreciates and recognizes the importance of services that Slifka provides for students,” he said, adding that students will have the same access to the Kosher Kitchen as in the past.
Yale Dining may also ramp up advertising for the Kosher Kitchen, but that initiative is only in the discussion stages, as are proposals to collaborate on food quality standards and to share vendor information.
“This semester will be an experimental semester,” Ponet said.
Yale Dining has already instituted cost-cutting measures this term: Yale Dining ended a transfer system that allowed undergraduates to use board plans to take meals at the independently operated Yale Law School dining hall. Dining points, known in years past as Flex Points, will also no longer be accepted at outside eateries such as Yorkside Pizza and Wall Street Pizza.
Together, the changes should save Yale Dining about $500,000, Taherian told the News in August.