The Call for Accessible Kosher Eats at UCLA Finds Answers in O.K.T.

Updated: May 2, 2019

by Ben Balazs

An interview with Hillel caterer Ruth Hurwitz reveals that her company, Our Kosher Table (O.K.T.), was the food provider UCLA needed to catch up with other universities that offered Kosher meal options on campus.

OKT came to UCLA during a time of vocal unrest regarding the lack of Kosher food options. Hurwitz explained, “Since day one, they wanted to integrate Kosher catering and had no luck. Food management at UCLA had so much pressure, internally.”

O.K.T. became a silver lining for the school, and it was given immediate support and infrastructure. Within just a few months of signing on, Hurwitz noted, space and equipment were provided and installed for use. Since then, O.K.T. has pushed the bill on food options to help accommodate all appetites.

“There’s a regular menu, a special, and a vegan option every day. We do an incredible job with vegan catering. We are pushed by our clients who are requesting more and more options – for sure dairy-free options. It became super popular, and people kept asking, ‘What can you do vegan?”

The O.K.T. regular menu that is available daily

Outreach has had its ups and downs though, Hurwitz pointed out, and strides needed to be made for O.K.T. to serve UCLA and the surrounding community to the greatest capacity. Since O.K.T. is located only at the Hillel, a change was made to have food prepared beforehand for delivery to the campus dining halls. These meals are pre-ordered the morning of, prepared, frozen, and sent to the student’s requested dining hall where they could enjoy it come lunch time.

“UCLA is making it very easy for anyone to get access to a Kosher meal,”  Hurwitz said.

Last year, another initiative was brought in so more students could utilize O.K.T. without extending their limited budgets. The restaurant began accepting meal plan swipes. This was put in place by UCLA at no additional cost to Hurwitz, and it turned into a boom for business.

“Meal swipes probably tripled the number of students coming in. We even had different organizations on campus that started calling us to cater their events, such as the Center for Jewish Studies and Save a Child’s Heart,” Hurwitz said.

When it came to Hillel’s own events for the Jewish community on campus, Hurwitz also made efforts to cater all of them.

“We do all the holidays, and there’s no charge to any of the students. The meals are paid for by donations to the Hillel.”

When asked about any other plans that O.K.T. has for expanding their operations, Hurwitz said her main goals were to reach other UCLA branches such as the Luskin School of Public Affairs building.

Our Kosher Table has lunches Monday – Thursday, from 11:30-2:30pm on the 2nd floor of Hillel.

The original was published on March 7, 2019 by Ha'am and may be found here.