At the JEC, we are blessed with wonderfully committed parents, parents who want their children to receive an excellent Jewish day school education, and who pay great sums of money for that opportunity.
Most parents pay our maximum tuition rate. However, for over 40% of our families, there is a gap between what they pay and what it costs to educate their children. We have a committee that assesses those families’ full tuition obligation.
There are some families though, whose needs are so great, that the decision of their tuition obligation falls to me. Of these families, a number are in such dire need that they receive SNAP benefits (what used to be called food stamps) from the Federal government.
The Food Stamp Challenge was started a number of years ago. The object is to experience what it is like to subsist for one week on food stamps. Currently, the weekly benefit is approximately $30. The purpose of the challenge is to sensitize average people to the plight of those dependent on this program.
I feel strongly that as the person charged with deciding how much tuition a family in such financial straits should pay, that it is appropriate for me to step into their shoes and experience if for only one week what their daily existence is year after year.
It is certainly not easy.
Stay tuned for further ruminations on my experience.