At Camp Harlam we know that what kids eat matters. We strive for a balance of kid-friendly foods and healthy options. Our priority is to provide safe and nutritious food that gives our campers the energy to fuel their brains and bodies for days filled with fun activities! If you have any questions related to food service, please email Amy Kagan, Associate Director, at AKagan@URJ.org.
At camp, we’ve taken steps to improve our food service processes so that we can provide great food that campers want to eat with an eye towards health and while being mindful of food allergies and special diets. We’ve worked with a nutrition expert (a Registered Dietitian) to improve our menus to make healthier options available more often and to enhance our food allergy management systems.
As with many aspects of camp, attention to food, nutrition, and allergy management doesn’t just happen during the summer months. Much of this is a year-round process involving various staff members to help make sure your camper has the best experience possible. It’s key that camp has the most up-to-date information needed to care for your child and knows how to best address your family’s needs. With this information, we can reach out for additional details as needed and ensure that we have properly trained our staff, created appropriate menus, and allowed for alternate foods as needed.
Food is an important part of camp life at Harlam. The spirit of camp revolves around ourChadar Ochel (Dining Hall). We say Hamotzi (blessing over the meal) before we eat and chant Birkat Hamazon (grace after meals) after we eat. Meal times are when we read theHoda’ot (announcements) and find out what the day has in store.
As we gather together in the Chadar Ochel, we enjoy family-style meals with campers eating with their bunks. Kids with food allergies eat with their bunks, but extra care is given to ensure that they are seated away from foods they are allergic to. Counselors and staff are trained in allergy awareness, management, and correct cleaning procedures for tables, chairs/benches and hands. Additional measures are taken as needed.
Camp Harlam is not a kosher facility and we do not have a kosher kitchen or kosher plates and utensils. However, we are kosher style and do not mix meat and dairy at meals nor serve pork or shellfish, or products containing them. For campers and staff who require a vegetarian meal, both vegetarian and vegan options are offered.
At Camp we pride ourselves on having a good variety of food at every meal. Breakfast usually features a hot entrée such as scrambled eggs or pancakes. Some combination of cereal, yogurt, granola, cottage cheese, and fruit is always available and well as many other items on our breakfast bar. Our bakery choices feature white, wheat, rye, and many other varieties of delicious breads.
Lunch and dinner include our salad bar with a great variety of salad greens, fresh vegetables, salad items such as tomato, cucumber, carrots, peppers, fruit, and specialty salads (such as Quinoa salad and mushroom salad among others), made daily. For our vegetarians, we always offer both vegetarian and vegan options as well as other specialty diets such as Gluten Free and Egg Free.
Some camp favorites include grilled cheese, vegetarian stir fry, baked potatoes, Shabbat Chicken Dinner, and of course the ever popular yellow meal!
In the afternoon, there is a snack served daily. After evening program, campers receive milk and cookies at Milk Squad before returning to their bunks.
Process for Severe Allergies
Before camp starts, we reach out to many of our camper families to ask a series of detailed food and allergy-related questions. The purpose of this is to gather information both general and specific, as it relates to the needs of the campers. With a camp the size of Harlam, the number of food allergies we deal with is sizable so we have to ensure that we have the ability to get appropriate products when required.
We’ve made, and will continue to make, changes to the products that we buy to decrease the allergens in some of our most common foods (like bread for instance). Year-round, our food service team continues to work on our menus and are always looking to integrate the needs of all campers and keep up with the latest trends in camp food, in order to keep everyone well nourished.
During the summer months, we have designated staff in the kitchen who make sure our campers with special diets get the foods that they need. They help everything run smoothly and are the liaison between the counselors, medical staff, and kitchen staff during the busy meal periods. They also help to plan for food-related cooking events, birthday celebrations, or anything else that the camper might need.
Current meals being served are projected on screens in the front of the Chadar Ochel. This is a key component in our communication with the staff and campers and where we list any allergens in detail, next to the menu item. This is just one more tool we have added to ensure good communication and make campers and staff aware of what is in the food. Food labels for food products are also available for review upon request.