Federal aid may help dire need for halal, kosher products at local food pantries

Congress is expected to vote on a bill that could remove the barriers for access to halal and kosher food at local food pantries.
A recent food distribution program in New York reported that over 20% of people at food pantries requested kosher or halal meals. For those who go to the Parkchester Islamic Center to battle food insecurity, they often are faced with long lines that extend down the street.
“The currently lack of kosher and halal food in many food pantries forces our neighbors to choose between their religion and their food," said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
The Farm Bill, which would help increase the accessibility of kosher and halal food, is voted on once every five years. The bill currently has restrictions that prevent certain USDA food programs from ordering kosher and halal ingredients.
“Today only eight products of 126 require a kosher certification, and only one product requires a halal certification and that is tomato sauce," said Jessica Chait, managing director of food programs at the Met Council. "Beyond the fact that this does not allow pantries to offer a balanced pantry bag, this is simply not acceptable.”
Congress is expected to vote on the bill this fall, and Ocasio-Cortez says she will introduce language to ensure equal access to those who rely on food insecurity support while maintaining their religion's diet.