WASHINGTON (JTA) — 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. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Joe Crowley, both Democrats, the Department of Agriculture would target, label and track the distribution of kosher food to guarantee that meals are directed to kosher food banks most in need. Kosher meals currently 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."
Crowley said, "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.”
According to William Rapfogel, CEO of New York’s Met Council human services agency, 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.