New York— In a recently issued statement to announce legislation introduced to both houses of Congress, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Representative Joe Crowley (D-Queens) said their goal is to “ensure that kosher food pantries receive adequate supply of food for hungry families as part of the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). With an estimated 117,000 Jewish households in New York City living in poverty, they want to require the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to target, label, and track distribution of kosher food to make certain that more meals are directed toward kosher food banks that need it the most.”
“With food insecurity in New York reaching disturbing, historic highs and food banks facing extreme shortages of kosher meals, many families are at risk of hunger and malnutrition,” said Senator Gillibrand. “We must take steps to help the neediest observant families and children get access to nutritious food during these difficult times.”
“No one should ever have to struggle to put food on the table, but unfortunately, too many New York families find themselves in that very position,” said Congressman Crowley. “New York’s food banks are on the frontlines of helping our neighbors in need, and we must do all we can to help support and sustain these critical resources. One way is by making it easier for these food banks to provide kosher meals and food items, and our legislation will do just that to help them to better meet the needs of the communities they serve.”
“The Department of Agriculture’s food assistance programs are critical to many food banks across the country, but they do not account for the dietary restrictions of many food-insecure individuals who abide by religious dietary laws,” said Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty CEO William E. Rapfogel. “Food insecure individuals with religious dietary restrictions have limited access to the food they so desperately need and are entitled to. These modest changes would greatly increase access to Kosher and Hallal food for Met Council and organizations across the country without causing any additional outlays. We are grateful for Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Crowley’s advocacy and support for this effort.”
According to the 2011 Jewish Community Study of New York, over 500,000 poor or near-poor people in Jewish households citywide are struggling to get by, including a huge portion of Jewish children living in poverty.