December 29, 2014

Some Kashrus Committees Struggle to Make Ends Meet Despite Their Growing Importance

WAYNESBORO, Pa — Amongst the many topics that were discussed at last month’s Vaadim Conference (November3-4) sponsored by the Association of Kashrus Organizations (AKO) was the financial situation of the local kashrus committees. These Vaadim, that have become such an important part of kosher supervision in America, often depend on fundraising and other income producing projects just to make ends meet. For the committee in Ottawa, the deficit is covered by the local Federation and for Dallas, solvency depends on membership.

Each of the Vaadim around the country and Canada has its own way of structuring fees. Catering is a good example of just how disparate the fees are structured in each Vaad. A caterer might pay a flat fee of $2300 in Ottawa (plus the cost of the mashgichim) but $1.75 per person in Chicago (with a $350 minimum) or $2.25 and $500 minimum in a hotel.  Although there has been a movement to shy away from having establishments pay mashgichim directly, some of the Vaadim find it easier to allow the stores to pay directly. The Star-K at one time collected membership and offered free Shatnes services but it has since become a large national certification agency and no longer depends on membership.

It is still an important income producer in such cities as Dallas and Atlanta. The Kashrus community is increasingly relying on these committees to perform important kosher certification functions. They are not only the key certifiers for local jurisdictions, but also provide invaluable services to the national certifiers, such as conducting periodic inspections in plants that are located in their jurisdictions.