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New York - Kosher/Halal Meal Program To Roll Out In NYC Schools Under City Council Pilot Program

Published on: June 18, 2018 09:31 PM
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New York - Students in four New York City schools who adhere to kosher or halal diets will be the beneficiaries of a groundbreaking pilot program introduced by the City Council offering them free lunches during the upcoming school year. 

As previously reported on VIN News, Mayor Bill de Blasio kicked off the 2017 – 2018 school year with an announcement that all public school students would be eligible for free lunches, but no accommodations were made for students whose religion dictates to special dietary regions.

The new initiative was announced tonight by Councilman Chaim Deutsch who has been advocating for the lunch program for more than three years.

$1 million is being allocated for the pilot program which will be launched in September at two private schools, one Muslim and one Jewish, and two public schools, one with a large concentration of Muslim students and another with a large Jewish student population.

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Deutsch will be working closely with City Hall to work out the final details of the program in the upcoming weeks and hopes to have the lunch program rolled out for the start of the new school year in September.

Several religious groups had clamored for greater inclusivity when Mayor de Blasio kicked off his universal lunch plan, but according to Deutsch, City Hall balked at the price of kosher school lunches, which are triple the price of the regular meals currently being served to public school students. 

Deutsch said the did not have an exact number at this time for the cost of halal meals.

“Making dietary accommodations was seen as too costly but at the end of the day, if someone is in prison, they can get kosher or halal food, and if someone is in a city or state hospital, they have the choice of receiving kosher or halal food,” Deutsch told VIN News.  “Why shouldn’t our students be entitled to the same options?”

Determining which schools will be the beneficiaries of the program is no small task, noted Deutsch. 

Public schools could be selected by reaching out to organizations such as NCSY which work with Jewish public school students to ascertain which city schools have the largest populations of Jewish students, with a similar approach taken in the Muslim community.

According to Deutsch, 115 of the approximately 450 private schools in New York City already qualify for federal funding for lunch programs that meets students’ religious needs because 62.3 percent of their students are eligible for the city’s SNAP food program.  Deutsch said that schools that come close to, but do not meet, the 62.3 percent threshold could be considered for the pilot program.

Having hit an impasse at previous attempts to craft a program with City Hall, Deutsch expressed his appreciation to City Council Speaker Corey Johnson for allocating funding for the program, as well as City Councilman Rafael Espinal for his efforts on behalf of the initiative.

“Finally, Jewish kids in public school whose parents cannot afford to send them food will have kosher options, and yeshiva students will be eligible for meals like anyone else,” said Deutsch.

Deutsch described the $1 million allocation as historic and said he hopes to be able to further expand the program in the future.



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Read Comments (4)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jun 19, 2018 at 07:09 AM Anonymous Says:

It only took close to 200 years for NYC to make this option available to its students.

2

 Jun 19, 2018 at 09:26 AM anon6 Says:

While it is true that kosher lunch is expensive, think of all the tax dollars we pay that are not used to educate our kids who are in private school. All the cost of teachers, desks, etc that the city saves on...lunch is cheap by comparison!

3

 Jun 19, 2018 at 04:20 PM RobertS Says:

A nice gesture but I'm not sure there are many kashrut observant families with children in public schools. And given the kosher menu will be more limited, it's not likely to entice less-observant students into keeping kosher. Better to let the city subsidize private schools for the burden that is alleviated by avoiding public school enrollements.

4

 Jun 19, 2018 at 05:27 PM The Professor Says:

Reply to #2  
anon6 Says:

While it is true that kosher lunch is expensive, think of all the tax dollars we pay that are not used to educate our kids who are in private school. All the cost of teachers, desks, etc that the city saves on...lunch is cheap by comparison!

No one's stopping you from sending your kids to public school with a home-packed lunch. Your argument is self-serving...

5

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