U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) have called on U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to ensure that kosher and halal food are included in federal emergency food programs in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a letter sent on Wednesday, Gillibrand and Stabenow, whose states represent large Jewish and Muslim populations, respectively, called on Perdue “to ensure that kosher and halal food are being included in the Farmers to Families Food Box Program, and what steps USDA has taken to receive feedback from Jewish and Muslim communities to ensure their religious dietary needs are met by the program.”

“Americans of all backgrounds and faiths are experiencing increased hunger during this pandemic, and many programs have been put forth to alleviate some of these issues,” stated the letter. “However, many in the Jewish and Muslim community only eat kosher or halal food and have not been able to benefit from these programs if they do not provide these options.”

Citing Gillibrand’s office, JTA, which first reported the letter, wrote: “Across New York City, Westchester County and Long Island, about 222,000 Jewish households keep kosher. An estimated 51,700 poor and near poor Orthodox households and 144,400 other poor and near poor Jewish households would benefit from the inclusion of kosher options in the Farmers to Families Food Box program.”

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