(JTA) — New York City is now distributing kosher food through the meals program launched to keep city residents fed during the current coronavirus-induced upheaval.
The city began giving out three meals a day to children and their family members after schools closed in mid-March. In early April, the city began offering the meals to all New Yorkers. But no kosher meals were available.
That changed this week after pressure from New York City Council members and Jewish advocates who noted that the city offered other specialized foods, including halal meals for Muslim residents, but not meals that Jews who observe dietary laws could eat.
“After weeks of urging the mayor’s office … to implement kosher ‘grab and go’ meals, I am happy that they finally heard our call,” Councilman Chaim Deutsch said in a statement. “There is no reason that kosher-observant New Yorkers should have had to wait weeks longer than the rest of the city to be allowed equal access to our most basic need — food.”
Along with the City Council’s Jewish Caucus, which Deutsch leads, the UJA-Federation of New York, the Jewish Education Project and an education advocacy initiative of the Orthodox Union all lobbied for the change.
New Yorkers have picked up 4.5 million free meals since the crisis began, according to city data. The kosher meals are being distributed starting this week at 10 public schools in heavily Jewish areas of Brooklyn and Queens, including in Williamsburg and Borough Park, neighborhoods that have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.