December 28, 2009

Economy Takes Toll but Federal Dollars Bring Money Back To Kosher Marketplace

Brooklyn, New York… KosherToday Features Editor…“Food-stamp users on the rise, with more than half a million Brooklyn citizens receiving the subsidy,” read a recent headline in the Daily News. A KosherToday analysis indicates that Brooklyn residents who have enrolled in the federally subsidized food stamp program are emerging in practically every neighborhood with an especially well represented percentage in Jewish neighborhoods. According to the Met Council on Jewish Poverty, a growing number of new poor or near poor can be found in Orthodox neighborhoods in Brooklyn, a significant number due to the recession. Kosher food establishment are taking note of the dramatic increase in food stamps used by kosher consumers in their stores. While the food stamps offer some relief to poverty stricken families, they tend to fall short due to the significantly higher prices for kosher food. To make ends meet and stick within the $25 a week allotment, some sources say, food stamp holders would have to eliminate all meat and dairy from their diets. Some community activists have called for a 50% increase in the monthly food stamp subsidy as well as in the eligibility levels to ensure everyone who needs help will receive assistance. The government has already slowly begun increasing allocations for food stamps throughout the past couple of years and will be continuing with additional considerations.

Many bakeries, grocers, and other food establishments told KosherToday that since the skyrocketing of food stamp enrollment, their traffic has greatly increased and ultimately, so has cash flow. This leads one to believe that consumer dollars aren’t necessarily being exchanged for federal dollars, but families are able to purchase more of the kosher food that they need. “We thought the bakery would feel a hit with the economy hitting an all time low,” shared a bakery owner from Flatbush, “but recently it seems that federal dollars are finding their way into the local kosher establishments.” It appears that while the food stamps are having their desired effect on poverty-stricken consumers, they are also a boon for kosher food purveyors and retailers.