U.S. Department of Defense officials have responded to Agudath Israel of America as to the status of the kosher Meals Ready to Eat (MREs). In an earlier letter to the Pentagon, the Orthodox Jewish group asked about the agency’s plans regarding the re-solicitation of kosher MRE bids and the arrangements in place to accommodate Jewish personnel in the interim.
Yesterday, Brigadier General Steven Shapiro, Defense Logistics Agency’s (DLA) Troop Support Commander, personally informed Rabbi Abba Cohen, Agudath Israel’s Washington representative, of the following:
• DLA was issuing a new solicitation for the procurement of kosher MREs that very day (Tuesday) and was expecting the entire process to be completed, and for a contract to be awarded, within an estimated 4-6 week time frame.
• There is a large quantity of kosher MREs in Dubai for supplying the Central Command (which includes Afghanistan and the Middle East) and, during the solicitation period, should these rations be needed in the United States or elsewhere, DLA is able to transport them from Dubai to those locations.
The General added that MREs may remain in use even after expiration dates, as long as medical personnel are satisfied that the ration remains sound.
“Agudath Israel is pleased that DLA has put into affect this highly expedited solicitation process, which we believe will result in the prompt production of the kosher MRE for the long term,” stated Rabbi Cohen. “Moreover, the expedited process will result in a brief interim period that will consequently lessen need for the ration — a need that the Pentagon, in any event, is prepared to meet by transporting existing stock currently in the Middle East.
“We applaud the DOD for accommodating the religious needs of Jewish service personnel and for its efforts to keep the kosher MRE program viable.”