U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) recently applauded the enactment of their amendment to ensure that kosher and halal food pantries receive an adequate supply of food for hungry families as part of the Emergency Food Assistance Program.
Included in the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act, also known as the FARM Bill, signed by President Barack Obama earlier this month, the Gillibrand-Crowley amendment requires the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture to target, label and track distribution of kosher and halal food to make certain that appropriate meals are directed toward the food banks that need them most.
“No one should ever have to choose between deeply-held religious beliefs and putting food on the table,” Crowley said. “Yet, oversights in current law have meant that many food banks in New York and elsewhere have struggled to meet the demand from families with religious dietary restrictions, making it difficult for these families to get the food they need.”
Gillibrand noted that many families that observe kosher are at risk of hunger and malnutrition.
“We must take steps to help the neediest observant families and children get access to nutritious food during these difficult times,” she said.
David Frankel, CEO and executive director of the Metropolitan Council of Jewish Poverty, thanked Crowley and Gillibrand for working to get the amendment through.
“Through their advocacy and leadership on the Kosher/Halal amendment, Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Crowley made great strides toward eliminating that inconceivable hardship for millions of Americans,” Frankel said. “More than one-half million Jewish New Yorkers struggle with food insecurity each and every day. To address this growing crisis, Met Council has developed the nation’s largest kosher food pantry, each month providing food packages for 15,000 households — regardless of their religious affiliation.”
In 2012 and again in 2013, Gillibrand and Crowley introduced similar language in the form of a bill in both chambers of Congress.