Two New York lawmakers introduced legislation to ensure that kosher food pantries receive enough food as part of the federal Emergency Food Assistance Program.
Under the legislation – introduced Monday by U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) – the United States Department of Agriculture would target, label and track distribution of kosher food to guarantee that more meals are directed to kosher food banks that need it the most. Under the current system, kosher meals are not tracked to make sure they end up in kosher pantries or specific communities.
“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,” Gillibrand told JTA. “We must take steps to help the neediest observant families and children get access to nutritious food during these difficult times.”
“Our legislation will help make it easier for these food banks to provide kosher meals and food items, helping them to better meet the needs of the communities they serve,” Crowley said.
According to William Rapfogel, CEO of New York’s Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, nearly 400,000 poor or near-poor Jewish households citywide are struggling to get by and approximately 52,000 Jewish children are living in poverty.