Deutsch Announces $1 Million for Kosher, Halal Meals in Schools

City Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D-Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, Brighton Beach) has announced the inclusion of $1 million in the City’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget to fund a pilot program that will offer kosher and halal meals in New York City public and non-public schools.

Deutsch has been a vocal advocate pushing for a kosher and halal lunch option that will make Universal Free Lunch truly accessible for all New York City children.

The move follows Deutsch partnering with City Councilmember Rafael Espinal (D-Bushwick, East New York) to introduce a resolution in 2014 calling upon the Department of Education to provide lunches for Jewish and Muslim students who follow religious dietary laws.

City Councilman Chaim Deutsch

“When I became chair of the New York City Council’s Jewish Caucus in early 2018, one of my first priorities was pushing for the kosher/halal lunch option in schools. During this budget cycle, I fought to include funding for a pilot program for both public and non-public schools,” said Deutsch.

“I’m grateful for the leadership of Speaker Corey Johnson, who ensured that this historic $1 million was included in the City Council’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget. This is a huge step forward towards ensuring that kosher and halal meals become a universal option for the 1.5 million New York City students in public and non-public schools.”

Johnson said the council’s $1 million investment in both our public and non-public schools will make universal free lunch a reality for all. “I thank Council Members Chaim Deutsch and Rafael Espinal for their leadership and advocating for young New Yorkers,” he said.

City Councilman Rafael Espinal Jr.
City Councilman Mark Treyger

City Council Member Mark Treyger (D-Coney Island, Bensonhurst Gravesend), chair of the Committee on Education, said making free lunch accessible to more New York City students helps take the burden off of working families and ensures that children are treated with dignity and respect, and better equipped to succeed academically.

Espinal said children cannot learn when they are hungry and for too long that has been the case of Muslim and Jewish students in our schools. “I am proud to have partnered with Council Member Deutsch to secure $1 million to make kosher and halal lunch options available to students so that they can get the variety and nutrition they need to succeed, he said.

Both Jewish and Muslim leadership also applauded the move.

“We applaud the leadership of Speaker Corey Johnson and Council Member Chaim Deutsch, Chair of the Jewish Caucus who led the charge on this historic initiative. They immediately understood the importance of expanding universal free lunch to extend to those who keep kosher and halal and worked tirelessly to fight for all students- both public and nonpublic. We look forward to working on the immediate implementation of this pilot and the eventual inclusion of all NYC children within the Free Lunch For All program” said Maury Litwack, Executive Director of Teach NYS, a project of the Orthodox Union.

“We are extremely excited to see the hard work of equability champions bearing fruits for observing Jewish and Muslim students in our diverse New York City public and non-public schools. This is indeed a great first step towards equitable treatment of all our wonderful students who come from many different backgrounds, and we are grateful to Council Member Chaim Deutsch for championing this,” said Sheikh Musa Drammeh – Islamic Leadership School.

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