By Jon Cronin, Editor
Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows) has authored state legislation to require city public schools to provide students with religious dietary restrictions with meal options at the student’s request.
Weprin’s bill would make the initiative part of the city’s Universal Free Lunch program and provide kosher and Halal meals for all students who require it in city schools.
“The urgency of passing Halal and kosher food is dire and must not be taken lightly,” said Mazeda A. Uddin, the founder of the South Asian Fund for Education, Scholarship and Training (SAFEST). “The livelihoods of thousands of New York City public school students’ futures depend on it. Many students, due to their faiths, cannot eat all foods and need a specific requirement for eating foods. They should not have to apologize for that. This is a country of freedom to practice your religion freely and we must never forget that. So, let’s begin to make change for all of humanity starting today with this bill. This is for all of us”
A statement from Weprin’s office said that, if passed, the legislation will allow “students to freely exercise their faith, while also increasing cultural exposure and understanding for all students.”
“If kosher and Halal meals are already provided in prisons, they absolutely should be provided in our schools,” Weprin said. “Our state is one of incredible religious and ethnic diversity, and it is our duty to provide for all of those living in New York. The students of our state should not have to choose between a nutritious meal and their religion.”
Jake Adler, New York Policy Director for the Orthodox Union, added that, “The new ‘free school lunch for all’ program must be made to live up to its promise to provide a free nutritious lunch to every single student in every School in New York City. The continued failure to provide kosher or Halal options needlessly leaves tens of thousands of students out and goes against the very essence of what New York should be.”