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February 25, 2013

Haredim Say They Can't Meet School Lunch Nutritional Guidelines For Religious Reasons

VegetablesLed by Agudath Israel of America, haredim are finding it hard to comply with the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The law, which went into effect this year, is supposed to make school lunches healthier, and allocates billions of dollars to make this possible. Haredim say they need exemptions for religious reasons – or they need more money from the federal government to comply with the existing law.

 

Led by Agudath Israel of America, haredim are finding it hard to comply with the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The law, which went into effect this year, is supposed to make school lunches healthier, and, according to a report in the Forward, allocates billions of dollars to make this possible. Haredim say they need exemptions for religious reasons – or they need more money from the federal government to comply with the existing law.

Many haredi schools allegedly do not actually have lunch programs. Instead, they stage school lunches for the few days inspectors might arrive, and the rest of the time, children go home for lunch or eat whatever their parents pack for them. The school pockets the federal and state money meant to subsidize the lunches during the rest of the school year. I’ve spoken to haredim whose schools defrauded the government this way. They were told by the schools’ administration to lie tothe inspectors if necessary to cover up the fraud.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act requires both public and private schools receiving federal lunch assistance to follow a new set of nutritional guidelines that include limiting grain consumption, replacing refined grains with whole grains, mandating that each student get at least half a cup of dark-green and red-orange vegetables per meal, and limiting sodium intake. To get federal money for school lunches, a school has to comply with these new guidelines.

But haredim say they cannot do that.

Haredim claim that giving students enough bread to say the full Grace after Meals – in their minds, approximately one slice – uses up a meal’s entire grain allotment, meaning pasta dishes or rice dishes could not be served.

In the meeting earlier this month with the United States Department of Agriculture, Agudath Israel and the Jewish Education Project (previously known as the Board of Jewish Education of Greater New York) raised this issue. The USDA agreed to allow haredi schools to increase their amount of grain consumption per meal, as long as the overall calorie content of each meal was no higher than the maximum allowed by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.

This compromise does not address glycemic load issues that presage obesity and diabetes or deal with the lack of phytonutrients that are potent cancer inhibitors and which also play a role in reducing heart disease – facts the USDA overlooked to accommodate haredim.

In October 2012, haredim also complained that dark green vegetables pose a another religious problem for them that needs to be accommodated.

The problem?

Tiny bugs, usually invisible to the naked eye or appearing as extremely tiny dots about the size of the head of a pin.

“The problem of insect infestation has been confirmed by numerous rabbinical authorities and kosher certification agencies, and many schools have raised this problem,” Rabbi Abba Cohen, Agudath Israel’s Washington director, insists.

Agudath Israel reportedly told USDA and Department of Education officials at that October 2012 meeting that the cost of purchasing kosher certified insect-free leafy green vegetables would cost four times as much as regular vegetables. Those vegetables are sometimes kept (purportedly) bug free by hyper-spraying them with pesticides. In fact, Israel’s Sefardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar recently ruled that consuming these so-called bug-free kosher supervised vegetables is a threat to health, and he ordered people to  purchase regular leafy green vegetables and wash them as out mothers and grandmothers used to do. But Agudath Israel of America rejected using regular unsupervised leafy green vegetables because hiring kosher inspectors to carefully examine each leaf would cost too much money.

They also claimed that if the government forced haredi schools to serve these leafy green vegetables without proper kosher certification, parents will order their children not to eat them, defeating the purpose of serving them.

“We are not in any way opposed to changes in school lunches. We think it is a laudable goal to give children more choices. We just want to make sure that everyone’s needs and objectives can be fulfilled,” Cohen told the Forward.

Agudath Israel’s objective here seems clear: to get haredi schools multiple times more federal money per student than other schools get. Thankfully, the USDA and USDoE haven’t yet gone along with it, forcing haredim to spend money on something other than fighting New York City’s new informed consent requirement for metzitzah b’peh, the direct mouth-to-bloody-penis-sucking done by (mostly) haredi mohels after removing a baby’s foreskin.

Haredim reportedly hired a nutritionist to design alternative meal plans that would provide nutritional values equal to what the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act requires while excluding vegetables haredim view as problematic.

If the nutritionist is actually able to do this – which is unlikely unless the nutritional values counted by the federal government are dumbed down specifically for haredim – the USDA could decide to accept the haredi meal plan as valid.

The issue of grain and leafy green vegetable consumption illustrates in part how problematic the haredi diet is. There are many haredim reaching marriageable age who have never eaten a green salad or tasted broccoli or spinach. What will the health of their children be like?

Comments

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Morons. Why don't they take the money they're spending on lawyers so they can fight the circumcision consent issue and use it to buy whole wheat bread and Artscroll vegetable light checkers?
Since when did hating our children become a Torah value?

hiring kosher inspectors to carefully examine each leaf would cost too much money

FIne; give them no Federal funds and let them deal. They aren't serving the lunches anyway so really what difference does it make what kind of lunches it is that they don't serve. Haredim have a halachic reason tailor-made for every situation, one which will somehow serve as a basis for extracting more money from the rest of us.

sounds like a purim article but sadly it is not

The hareidim arehere on earth for one reason only to make others lifes miserable just like theirs,that is their main goal to infuriate and bring hate on us all,they are immature and childlike throwing tantrums at every opportunity they get.

Nothing has changed in 50 years. In 1963, I was a student at the Mesivta Chaim Berlin, then led by "Gedolim", Rav Yitzchok Hutner, Rav Aharon Schecter, Rav Avigdor Miller and Rav Shlomo Freifeld. Art Scroll has published books on all of these "Gedolim". Then too, the Yeshiva got money from the government to provide free lunch to students. They pocketed the money and we students had to brown bag it. I remember the days when there would be an announcement that all students were required to eat lunch in the lunchroom because the inspectors were coming that day. So, what do you expect from the current Yeshiva leadership when their rabbeim set the standard for honesty?

My mind whirls in the insanity/rationalization of their thinking. Where I live in Immanuel, what both the kids and adults eat meets the nutriition requirements...in fact so much so, they overeat. But I digress. Heatlhy foods equal healthy/strong kids and adults. And if you follow their relgious thinking...stronger bodies and stronger minds make them do more mitzvot. I am at a loss for words at the thinking of these people in this article...except maybe they want people in want and ingorance like those in 1984 in order to control them...G-d help us.

Ronald Reagan didn't eat broccoli and neither do I, with or without bugs.

Posted by: Sol | February 25, 2013 at 07:56 AM

I was bused to different yeshivas so every yeshiva had many students

Sol -I remember those days in late 60 s after finishing high school the vietnam war was going on so alot of the graduate students went for divinity deferment i was one, the yeshiva told us after graduating that if we sign the form
we will be able to learn there for a year without paying any tuition ,as soon as i signed it they abandoned us told us that i cant go back,they got $800 dollars on my name i could not beleive what happened they are the scum of the earth when it comes to money.

Can't you inspect greens and then put them through a blender so any unseen insects are buttel be'rov? It works well with spinach. I work in a Haredi boys school and I find it's difficult to get boys to eat a good range of veg.

There are some religious schools and yeshivas that do have meal programs. The ones I am familiar with are not in NY or NJ where cheating the government is a way of life.

There are some religious schools and yeshivas that do have meal programs. The ones I am familiar with are not in NY or NJ where cheating the government is a way of life.

Posted by: Bas Melech | February 25, 2013 at 08:23 AM

black hat?

Even though the children don't eat healthy meals, it doesn't seem to have any negative impact on their ability to have lots of children of their own later in life. So just exempt them from the school lunch program and don't give them any Federal dollars: no school lunch money, no food stamps, no Medicaid, no welfare, no Section 8 housing vouchers. As long as "freedom of religion" is allowed to trump every other government policy, this foolishness will continue.

("Party all the Time", Eddie Murphy)

Gov,
I can’t understand it, why you want to hurt us
After all, we educate the Jews
I buy kids the best kosher food we can find in the tri-state
Food in the tri-state
Still you make us eat right
What are we to do?

USDA: Challah all the time
Challah all the time
Challah all the time
USDA: Challah all the time
Challah all the time

We want challah all the time, challah all the time
We want challah all the time, challah all the time
Challah all the time, we want challah all the time
Challah all the time

Gov,
What’s up with the requirements for balance?
You want us to eat so much of treif
You’ll make us file a religious grievance
It makes our school religiously unsafe

But we want challah all the time
We want challah all the time
Challah
Challah
Challah, we want challah all the time
We want challah all the time
We can’t wash greens
We can’t wash veggies
Can’t wash veggies
We can’t wash veggies
Challah all the time, do you wanna get some challah
Yeah
Challah all the time, challah all the time

jancsibacsi " how many times to we have to tell you,that you sound like an imature uneducated ex hasid who is trying to masquarade as a sophisticated atheist,you don't fool anyone,you'r just making a fool out of yoursel,please go back to your mommy and tell her to wipe your runny nose

Posted by: Shmaryah,should change his name to Julius Streicher | February 25, 2013 at 08:38 AM

why because he is exposing the underbelly of ultra Orthodox judaism

Shmaryah,should change -You are brain damaged i am not an ex husid never had lange payes only someone who himself masquarades as ansophisticated moron sees in toehrs what he himself is so shutup and act like youre intelligent otherwise got hangdehof on the hightest tree next to you ,go back to youre rebbes and kish their tohes di farrike haye.

What a bunch of self hating Jews, Every chasisc school I know of in Boro Park and Williasburg, serve Daily Breakfast, Lunch, and some even Dinner. get the facts straight.

When the inspectors came to the satmar cheder in boropark when I was attending there, we were served canned fruits etc. from cans labeld as donated from the government to the school. The rest of the year we never saw these cans, they were sold to a heimisha company that repackaged them and sold them further.


What a bunch of self hating Jews, Every chasisc school I know of in Boro Park and Williasburg, serve Daily Breakfast, Lunch, and some even Dinner. get the facts straight.


So, when your own people claim to have seen this larceny themselves, as does "Satmar" who left the comment immediately preceding mine - they're lying?

Lol, I remember those few days a year when the inspectors would come. That was the only time the school would ever serve lunch. Then the school decided to actually start selling a meal plan for 40 bucks a week. They came up with this really great menu and I was pretty stoked for it. What happened? Macaroni every day, and only one serving of it. Additionally, they never cleaned the trays so they began to smell putrid.
Ah, haredi lunches

Why should B'Saiva- ostensibly a meal center for aniyim serve tasty balanced meals while yeshiva students either get served empty bland starches or told to brown bag. If I were a bochur getting served institutional food I would sneak into B'Saiva

jancsibacsi " how many times to we have to tell you,that you sound like an imature uneducated ex hasid who is trying to masquarade as a sophisticated atheist,you don't fool anyone,you'r just making a fool out of yoursel,please go back to your mommy and tell her to wipe your runny nose

Posted by: Shmaryah,should change his name to Julius Streicher | February 25, 2013 at 08:38 AM

Who the fuck are you asshole? Why do you care what other people post here? When someone leaves a cult other cult members will typically follow that person and try to suck them back in....is that's what's happening here? Why not just shut the fuck up and let janc post as he wants and if you have anything constructive to say then maybe consider writing something on this board.

This is a classic rip-off story using kashrus as a shield. The article says that the USDA requires 1/2 cup of green leafy OR orange/red vegetable per lunch per day.

Carrots, beets, rutabega, winter squash, turnips, and kohlrabi don't have "bug problems." (I realize that kohlrabi, rutabega, and turnips are not dark green and leafy or orange but they are in the same family as broccoli and have a lot of the same vitamins.) Also, Jews traditionally eat cabbage, and tomatoes may be one of the "red/orange" vegetables that the USDA will accept (Tomatoes are not expensive of bought stewed in cans.) If tomatoes are OK, tomatillos (Mexican tomatoes) may also be OK and these are fresher in the winter, and can go in composed salads ahead of time.

I don't think the nutritionist is going to have that much trouble putting together a lunch plan that meets the USDA requirements.

Whether the schools have a cook on staff who can make interesting side dishes with these vegetables or whether the kids will eat this kind of diet if it's different from what they get at home is another story. The fact is, if the school's took the government's dollar, they should have been serving these vegetables a long time ago.

I agree with alot of stuff on this blog. Been perusing it for ages. I particularly liked the insights of the insiders exposing aish hatorah/ jewish version of scientology. I also support the efforts to stop shoving the molestation issues under the rug.
Regarding this issue: nutrition in schools; i personally prefer eating healthy. I don't mind the greens either, preferably the smokable kind lol. I also don't rule out the possibility that the opposition are just making attempts to rort the system here. However, i oppose governmwnt interference in dietary intake matters for entirely different reasons. Big government should have no say in what any individual ingests. Its my body. Not the governments. If i wanna buy a two litre cup of cola that should be my prerogative. If the government subsequently refuses to foot my medical bills, well hey, fair enough. But government should have no say in what i put into my own body. If i wanna smoke, drink, eat crap etc, that should be my democratic right in any country that wants to call itself free. As much as heart disease bothers me, i still value personal liberties more.

Playbucher, it's a question of the schools taking government money to subsidize lunches. If you take the government's dime, you do the government's bidding.

NeverFrum-Youre great thanks:)

@EileeenK i don't disagree

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