Brooklyn – Assistant Majority Leader Lew Fidler and Councilman David G. Greenfield, Chair of the Senior Center Subcommittee, teamed up last week to oppose the Department for the Aging’s proposed changes to home delivery of kosher meals for seniors. Under DFTA’s proposed policy change, home delivered meal programs would have a cap on the number of kosher meals they can provide. Once the cap is reached, future clients in need of a kosher meal could opt to accept a non-kosher meal or go on a wait list for the next available kosher meal slot. Council Members Fidler and Greenfield, upon learning about this policy change from Met Council on Poverty CEO William Rapfogel, immediately contacted DFTA Commissioner Lilliam Barrios-Paoli to demand a retraction of the policy. Pressure from both Council Members, who represent large swaths of the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, resulted in the policy being voided and Jewish seniors in need of a kosher meal having unfettered access to those meals through the city’s many home delivery programs.
“So many seniors on fixed incomes rely on these meals because they are home-bound,” said Councilman Greenfield. “For Jewish seniors, making them choose between keeping kosher and having a free meal is unconscionable. I know that DFTA is forced to operate on a shoestring budget, but affording seniors the right to adhere to their beliefs is worth the few cents extra for a meal. I thank Commissioner Barrios-Paoli for stepping in to override this misguided policy.”
Hundreds of kosher meals are delivered throughout the five boroughs each and every day. This is in addition to the hundreds of meals served at kosher senior centers, including three in Councilman Greenfield’s district.
“No one, especially government, can tell people that their choice is either to abandon their religious beliefs or starve. That is unconscionable,” said Councilman Fidler. “I am pleased that when we pointed out to the DFTA Commissioner that this was the effect of their policy memo on Kosher meals, that she immediately reversed that policy. Whoever at DFTA had drafted that memo was shockingly insensitive to the needs of kosher families. Thankfully, the Commissioner was not. I am extremely pleased that we were able to get this decision reversed before anyone was hurt by it.”
Preserving home delivery of kosher meals is just one aspect of the battle to safeguard aging funding. In the coming weeks, Council Members Fidler and Greenfield will join with their colleagues to ensure that additional senior services, including case management and funding for senior centers, are safeguarded from devastating budget cuts. Councilman Greenfield led the successful effort to lobby the state to restore Title XX funding for senior centers and received personal assurance from Commissioner Barrios-Paoli that, as a result, 105 senior centers slated for closure by the City would remain open. That is a promise Greenfield, Fidler and the rest of the City Council intend to hold the Commissioner to as the city’s budget is finalized in the coming weeks.
(YWN Desk – NYC)