Earlier in my career, I ran a few upscale fast-casual restaurants in New York City. During that time, I had a small side hustle helping a fellow restaurateur to expand his restaurant and food truck business into weddings and events. When I sent him my first pass at the business plan, he replied quickly: “This is such a useful layout! It really helps me orient my thoughts!”

My friends, it was the NFTY program format.NFTY is the North American Federation of Temple Youth. This youth group is an organization that taught me how to be a “camp person.” NFTY is a where I learned how to write programs that have stated desired outcomes.

I’ve been using the NFTY program format since I was 13 years old. From youth group to summer camp to temple lay leadership and even business, the lessons that that document taught me have helped me map out the most complicated of concepts.  And so, in trying to organize my thoughts this past September around the tremendous task of feeding a GFC community that swells to more than 650 people at a time, I once again opened my trusty NFTY program format.

The first two sections of the NFTY program format ask you to outline goals and objectives.  Goals represent the broader vision: what you hope is gained from a successful outcome of the task at hand. Objectives are the specific elements that need to occur to meet those goals. I still use this framing- even in my food service!

Goal 1: Our menu should be optimized to be fuel for the incredibly active lifestyle of a normal camp day.


  • We will work hand in hand with nutritionists in the offseason to ensure that our menu is providing a nutritionally balanced path for campers and staff.
  • We will speak with campers, staff, parents, and other stakeholders to ensure that our menu is as broadly appealing as possible.
  • We will expand our salad bar offerings to include items such as plain pasta and proteins such as shredded chicken and hard-boiled eggs to ensure that even our pickiest eaters are able to obtain a nutritionally appropriate meal.

Goal 2: Our food offering should meet everyone where they are and err on the side of accommodation for every member of our community.


  • We will maintain Greene’s strict adherence to maintaining a peanut and tree nut-free environment.
  • The recipe for each menu item will minimize common allergens dairy, gluten, soy, sesame, and citrus as well as dietary considerations such as vegan/vegetarianism or keto where possible to do so.  If a recipe requires one or more of those dietary elements, a secondary dish will be planned to be prepared in consideration of those dietary needs, separate and apart to avoid cross-contamination.
  • I will make myself available for any parent who has concerns around their child’s diet for the summer and will employ nutritional specialists to monitor any concerns that may arise at each meal. (PS: My office line is (254)410-6691) and my email is ecohn-wein@urj.org!)

Goal 3: The kitchen should work seamlessly with the programmatic team to maximize the joy of eating with others.


  • We will work with programmatic leaders to ensure that their food needs and usage falls in line with the dietary standards we establish, so that, as example, around the campfire there are gluten free graham crackers and vegan marshmallows available.
  • We will meet and seek to elevate the specialness of the shabbat evening meal. We will invite units to braid challah dough with us on Fridays, embrace our roasted and fried chicken meal and shabbat-sha-brownies to make them worthy of that love, and feature other Jewish dishes like matzo ball soup and tzimmes.
  •  We will embrace camp traditions like cookout or breakfast for dinner. We will keep meal favorites like grilled cheese, pizza, and spaghetti and meatballs in regular rotation. We will encourage some amount of adventure with dishes such as orange chicken, falafel, and shakshuka.

Our goals are large, but achievable.  I am so incredibly excited to have this role in creating the holy community of a GFC summer. It’s going to be delicious!