USDA Expands Kosher Options in Food Pantries Due to Federations' Advocacy

Thanks to Jewish Federations’ collective advocacy and your feedback, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is expanding the number of kosher options in the Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), a Federal program that provides surplus food to food banks and pantries. Jewish Federations and agencies around the country receive food from this program to feed community members in need of assistance, however, kosher options have previously been quite limited.

Currently, the program’s Foods Available List includes only six food items with commercial kosher certifications including canned tuna, canned salmon, peanut butter, applesauce, tomato sauce, and canned garbanzo beans. With this change, deliveries starting in January 2023 will require kosher certification for several additional items including canned green beans, corn, and pears. Additionally, the USDA has made efforts to add a wider range of kosher certifications and more clearly mark those items for easier identification, policies for which Jewish Federations specifically advocated.

Items with a kosher certification have been approved by a rabbinic agency and checked at each step of production to ensure that the products’ ingredients, production facility, and actual production process adhere to all kosher certified requirements. This process also ensures that all ingredients, derivatives, tools, and machinery have no trace of non-kosher substances.

Items designated as kosher on the Food Available List are required to be certified kosher using one of six approved kosher symbols below.

Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey's Jewish Community Relations Council builds relationships and advocates for Jewish interests throughout the Jewish community and beyond. To get involved, please contact Dan Rozett, Manager of Community Relations and Israel Engagement.


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