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City should provide kosher and halal meals in its schools, Queens lawmaker says

Photo via Wikimedia Commons/U.S. Department of Agriculture

A Queens lawmaker is leading the call for a more diverse selection of meal options in the city’s schools.

Assemblyman David Weprin is sponsoring legislation to mandate that kosher and halal meals be made available to students with religious dietary restrictions upon request in New York City’s schools.

The eastern Queens representative said the change would service the growing population of students of faith in public schools, allow students to exercise their faith and increase cultural awareness and understanding.

Additionally, Weprin continued, many students with halal and kosher dietary restrictions either go without eating or throw away lunches that do not meet their religious requirements.

“If kosher and halal meals are already provided in prisons, they absolutely should be provided in our schools,” Weprin said. “Our state is one of incredible religious and ethnic diversity, and it is our duty to provide for all of those living in New York. The students of our state should not have to choose between a nutritious meal and their religion.”

Mazeda A.Uddin, founder of the South Asian Fund for Education, Scholarship and Training (SAFEST), said the change in policy is urgently needed.

“Many students, due to their faiths, cannot eat all foods and need a specific requirement for eating foods,” Uddin said. “They should not have to apologize for that.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio fielded a question from a students asking if he would consider introducing halal meals to the city’s schools at a town hall in Queens Village earlier this month.

The mayor said funding to provide the option is not currently available, but pointed out that schools currently have a vegetarian lunch option.

If approved, the bill would be effected 120 days after it is signed into law. View the full bill here.

Photo courtesy of Assemblyman Weprin's office
Photo courtesy of Assemblyman Weprin’s office

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