Hawzah News Agency (New York, US) – City Councilmembers Chaim Deutsch (D-Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, Brighton Beach, Homecrest, Midwood) and Rafael Espinal (D-Bushwick, East New York) last week led a rally on the steps of City Hall, along with Jewish and Muslim community advocates, calling for Mayor de Blasio to fund kosher and halal school lunches in public and nonpublic schools.
With the support of Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan), Deutsch and Espinal were successful in obtaining $1 million for a pilot program that launched kosher and halal meals in 9 public schools. Now the elected officials are asking for the program to be fully funded for the 400,000+ Muslim and Jewish children enrolled in New York City public and nonpublic schools in the upcoming 2020 Fiscal Year city budget.
Representatives of organizations including the Orthodox Union: Teach NYS, the Muslim Community Network, UJA Federation – NY, Islamic Leadership Council, the Bridge Multicultural Center, Our Life, Inc., the South Asian Fund for Education, Scholarship, and Training, and the Apna Brooklyn Community Center all participated in the rally.
“With more than 400,000 Jewish and Muslim students attending public school, and more than 100,000 Jewish students in private schools, the City has a responsibility to provide access to school lunches for the diverse children who reside within the five boroughs,” said Deutsch. “It’s time for Mayor de Blasio to put his money where his mouth is and truly accommodate the diversity here in New York City.”
Deutsch said there is still enough money left from the pilot program to continue running it for now, but the goal is to have a regular funding stream.
Espinal noted it’s no secret that students can’t focus if they’re not properly fed, so it should be an obvious step to have accessible lunches for all students.