Ram’s Café Prices are Rising: Why and How Will the Community Respond?

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Dennis Krolevich

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The Ram’s Cafe of Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy (HBHA) and run by the PTO has been a reliable source for kosher food for the students of HBHA and members of the Jewish Community Center. Not only do the parent and community volunteers work incredibly hard to keep the organization running, but they also provide food at a reasonable price considering what other stores or restaurants offer.

“With the volunteers’ labor also comes a great donation for the school, as they give 100 percent of their profit to HBHA.” Photo by Dennis Krolevich.

In order to keep everything balanced and raise their income, the administration has decided to discuss increasing prices by the beginning of next school year. They expect that prices will be raised between 50-100 cents per food item from the refrigerator or prepared in the kitchen. But first, let’s determine how much effort and responsibility comes with the running of the Ram’s Café:

The cafe has a workforce of about 60 volunteers, and they are hoping to get to 70 by next year. The average lunch shift is two hours long, from 11.am to 1.pm, which is when the cafe gets busy because of the students coming downstairs for lunch. During this shift, around four workers are preferred. During the morning they only need about two.

“We all really search for coupons and specials,” says head of the Ram’s Café, Carol Bergh, about the volunteers buying kosher food for the cafe. Some of these include Costco, Sprouts, Henhouse, and Aldi.

Another crucial factor to consider is the overhead costs the cafe has to keep up with, such as paper products, cleaning supplies, baking supplies, cooking supplies, and machinery such as microwaves, refrigerators, and ovens. Additionally, in order to use the Jewish Community Center’s (JCC) kitchen, they have to pay to be Vaad approved, meaning that even the most strict kosher laws apply to the food they serve and kitchen in which they operate. The only exception would be ‘Paas Yisrael’ because of dairy products, but that would be the only thing people would have to avoid if needed.

The actual reason and statistic behind prices going up has to do with the cost of food and how the income the cafe has made is slowly shrinking.

“In 2000, food priced at $20. Right now, in 2019, it actually should be $30.64, and we have not had a price increase,” Bergh claims concerning the inflation of costs in food. She recites this number from an article published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, which also estimates that in the span of almost two decades the fee has gone 53.22 percent higher.

“Because of this inflation effect, the cafe will continue making less money each year they if do not change their rates, and they will soon be unable to cover costs.” Photo by Dennis Krolevich.

The cafe’s treasurer, Diah Rubin, presented the amount of income they were losing in percentages: the years 2016-2017 compared to the prior year had gained 92.31 percent of the profit of the years 2015-16, and skipping ahead to 2018-2019, they have made 86.31 percent of their profit from 2017-2018. Overall, the increase in expenses has reduced the cafe’s donations to HBHA.

In the last school year, the Ram’s Cafe raised $22,000 as a general donation, $1,600 for Mishloach Manot, $1,300 to the Scholastic book fair, and other HBHA events. From extra fundraising they had also donated another $15,000 for the school in both 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 combined to cover the expenses for chromebooks and technology. The list goes on and on, so hopefully now the reality of what the Ram’s Café and its many volunteers do for our school is clear; its contribution to the HBHA community is critical to the programs and services we all enjoy, and an increase in prices is long overdue and necessary to keep this organization going steadily.

“We will always be the most reasonabl[y priced that] we can be,” Bergh reiterates about the honesty and true work that is done for the students and JCC members. She also wants to remind us all that, “our number one goal is to serve our community, to serve our children.” [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column]
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