New York City’s free kosher “Grab & Go” meals are coming to the Lower East Side and Washington Heights.
Starting Friday, the meals will be available on the Lower East Side at P.S. 134, located at 293 East Broadway; and in Washington Heights at P.S. 48, located at 4360-78 Broadway.
These are the program’s first kosher Manhattan locations, bringing the total number of kosher locations to 15.
As the coronavirus pandemic has caused severe financial distress to many New Yorkers, the city Department of Education has been distributing three free “Grab & Go” meals every day at public schools, to New Yorkers of all ages. Kosher sites were first added to the program last week.
The kosher-meal rollout was initially plagued by problems, from food being delivered late to an inadequate supply of meals. There are still issues at some locations – a person who visited the Midwood location this week told Hamodia that a lack of Education Department staff available to distribute the meals has led to a chaotic “self-service” atmosphere – but there have been far fewer complaints to local elected officials, as the Education Department has added locations and significantly increased the number of meals purchased.
Councilman Kalman Yeger told Hamodia he is cautiously optimistic that the kosher-food distribution is improving.
“We were hopeful that the initial growing pains of rolling out this important program would be worked out, and that more locations would be added,” Yeger said. “I’m grateful that the Department of Education has added additional distribution sites, and I hope that this is just the beginning of a robust and fair distribution system for kosher-observing New Yorkers.”
Further improvements are on the way, as the Education Department will also be adding more variety to the meals, Assemblyman Daniel Rosenthal told Hamodia. Lunch had mainly consisted of bread and hummus nearly every day; now, there will be a three-day meal rotation, and one option will include tuna fish.
Grab & Go is not the only problem-plagued city food program implementing changes following advocacy from local elected officials.
The Food Delivery Assistance Program, which delivers meals to low-income, homebound New Yorkers, has had complaints ranging from skimpy meals – one senior citizen’s meal box contained a Nutri Grain bar, a pear, and a few scattered peanuts; another got applesauce, an orange, a bag of carrots and some scattered nuts and raisins – to delivering non-kosher meals to those who had requested kosher. Councilman Chaim Deutsch told Hamodia on Thursday that he has spoken with city Food Czar Kathryn Garcia, who said that to improve the convenience of participating in the program, the city will add one hundred 311 operators, and allow people to register for a month’s worth of meal deliveries; previously, people had to re-register every 48 hours.
“I am pleased that the city is finally listening to our pleas for change,” Deutsch said. “People are desperate for food, and they shouldn’t be forced to jump through bureaucratic hoops to get it.”
Though utilized mostly by seniors, this program is available for any New Yorker who fits the following four criteria: No member of the household can go out and get food because they are at increased medical risk or homebound; no neighbor or family member can go out and get food for you; you don’t receive meal assistance from other providers, such as Meals on Wheels or G-d’s Love We Deliver; and you are unable to afford meal delivery or grocery delivery.
People can obtain more information and sign up for the Food Delivery Assistance Program by clicking here or calling 311.
People can obtain information about the Grab & Go food program, including the kosher meals, by clicking here.
Below is a full list of the kosher Grab & Go food sites. People of any age can pick up three daily meals at once, with no registration or ID required. Parents and guardians may pick up meals for their children. Meals will be available for children and families from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., and for adults from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The meals are catered by Borenstein Caterers under the hechsher of the OU and Volove Kashrus – Rabbi N.E. Teitelbaum of Congregation Nachlas Aron Volove.
P.S. 192 – 4715 18 Avenue
P.S. 160 – 5105 Fort Hamilton Parkway
P.S. 221 – 791 Empire Boulevard
P.S. 289 – 900 St Marks Avenue
P.S. 197 – 1599 East 22 Street
I.S. 117 – 300 Willoughby Avenue
P.S. 257 – 60 Cook Street
P.S. 132 – 320 Manhattan Avenue
Lower East Side
P.S. 134 – 293 East Broadway
P.S. 48 – 4360-78 Broadway
P.S. 154 – 75-02 162 Street
P.S. 164 – 138-01 77 Avenue
P.S. 197 The Ocean School – 825 Hicksville Road
P.S. 253 – 1307 Central Avenue
P.S. 54 – 1060 Willowbrook Road
Updated Thursday, April 30, 2020 at 8:23 pm .