Senate bids to add kosher food to emergency food distribution

WASHINGTON (JTA) — An amendment under consideration in the U.S. Senate would add kosher food to emergency food assistance.

The amendment, introduced last month by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), earned the endorsement of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the umbrella body for Jewish public policy groups, in a letter sent June 7 to other U.S. senators.

“The organized Jewish community is committed to ensuring basic human rights for everyone, including the right to eat,” the letter said. “We must consider the diversity among those seeking nutrition assistance and their varied needs.”

The amendment to the Emergency Food Assistance Act of 1983 would “increase the purchase of kosher and halal food from food manufacturers with a kosher or halal certification” as long as its cost is equivalent to food that is not kosher or halal, the Muslim term for ritually approved food.

The amendment also has Republican backing, with Sen. Mark Kirk (D-Ill.) as a cosponsor.

Also Monday, the JCPA repeated its call on Congress to roll back $4.1 billion in cuts to the food stamp program, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, that the Senate approved on Monday as part of the Farm Bill.

“Reducing SNAP does more harm than good,” said JCPA Chairman Larry Gold. “Not only does SNAP ensure American families have the food they need, but it contributes to our economy. This money goes directly to local supermarkets, keeping businesses open and ensuring a market for our crops.”

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