State Should Allocate 20% of Nourish NY Funding for Kosher and Halal Needs

On Tuesday, in a letter to Gov. Hochul, Senate Majority Leader Stewart Cousins, and Speaker Heastie the Met Council on Jewish Poverty asked Governor Hochul and the state legislature to strengthen the Emergency Food Programs by allocating 20% of Nourish New York funding for Kosher and Halal food. Met Council operates the largest kosher food bank and pantry network in the country and has worked around the clock during the pandemic feeding countless New Yorkers. The new letter comes after Assembly Member Cruz, Assembly Member Rosenthal, and thirty-three Assembly signatories sent a letter to Speaker Heastie in February.

The letter states: “New York has invested millions of dollars in mitigating food insecurity and ensuring that no New Yorker goes hungry. As such, it is unacceptable that any New Yorker should have to choose between lifesaving medication or food for themselves and their children. To prevent such an outcome, we respectfully request that 20% of Nourish NY funding, or $10 million, be directed to Met Council to meet the needs of kosher and halal observant New Yorkers.”

Last fall, Met Council released a report that found that of the 128.7 million meals delivered by the GetFoodNYC program, nearly 27 million were kosher (13.7 percent) or halal (7.2 percent). GetFoodNYC data offers a first-ever look at demand-driven data related to the emergency food need in New York City, and underscores the incredibly significant need for Kosher and Halal food, which has been historically underfunded and under-recognized.

Given the high demand for kosher and halal emergency food, Met Council calls for the state to increase the provision of kosher- and halal-certified food to at least 20% of all City-operated emergency food programs. In 2020, Met Council distributed 15.2 million pounds of food including 769,285 kosher food boxes as part of GetFoodNYC, an emergency food program established to address the surge in demand for food during the COVID-19 pandemic. In total, there are more than 1 million Jewish residents and approximately 777,000 Muslim residents in New York City.