(July 18, 2022 / JNS) The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that it will increase by 50% the number of kosher-food products available in the Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program, a federal program that provides surplus food to food banks and pantries.
Jewish Federations have advocated for this important increase that will go into effect in January 2023. The items that will be added to the kosher list are canned green beans, corn and pears.
Additionally, USDA has made efforts to add a wider range of kosher certifications and more clearly mark those items for easier identification, policies advocated by Jewish Federations as well.
Federations and agencies around the country receive food from this program to feed community members in need of assistance. However, kosher options have been quite limited.
In September, Jewish and Muslim congressional members sent a letter urging the USDA to take action to expand the options for kosher and halal food.
“We believe you should provide a safety net for our communities—be they small-business owners, essential workers, gig workers or refugees—so that they, too, can access nutritious meals for their families,” stated the letter.
As a result of the letter, the USDA invited faith institutions to provide feedback on the dietary needs of their community members. Members of the Jewish Federations’ public-affairs team met with USDA officials, and the changes that will soon be implemented directly reflect requests from the field regarding kosher needs voiced by Federations.
“Especially as the number of Americans facing food insecurity continues to grow, Federations remain committed to working with our interfaith partners, service providers and the government to ensure that people of all faiths and backgrounds have access to proper sustenance that meets their religious and cultural needs,” said Darcy Hirsh, managing director of public affairs at Jewish Federations of North America.
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