WASHINGTON (JTA) — The delivery of kosher and halal food in emergency situations would be made easier under a measure approved by the U.S. House of Representatives.
The amendment approved Wednesday to the Farm Bill mandates identifying kosher and halal food already in food banks so it may more easily be distributed to Jewish and Muslim communities during crises. It also encourages the Department of Agriculture to purchase more such foods, as long as the costs are equal to items that are not kosher or halal.
The Farm Bill itself failed to pass Thursday over disagreements over how deep its cuts should be to food stamp programs. Congressional leaders suggested they would craft a new bill, but it was too early to tell whether the kosher-halal amendment would be included.
William Rapfogel, who directs New York’s Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, praised the amendment, noting that in New York City, 300,000 Jews live at poverty level and 175,000 live at near poverty.
“We are hopeful that thousands more food-insecure Americans who observe the Muslim or Jewish faith will greatly benefit from this amendment,” he said.
Difficulties for such populations during last year’s Superstorm Sandy spurred the bill, Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) said in a statement. Grimm and Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) initiated the measure.
Similar legislation, sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), is under consideration in the Senate.
The Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the umbrella body for Jewish policy groups, has lobbied for both bills.