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Students, Lawmakers Push For Kosher, Halal Lunch Options In NYC Schools

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Several New York state lawmakers want to pass a bill requiring city schools to offer both Halal and Kosher meals to students who request them.

Political, civic and religious leaders were joined by Muslim and Jewish students at a rally Tuesday on the steps of City Hall.

"The cost is limited compared to having a healthy meal, allowing students to eat and to be able to perform," Assemblyman David Weprin said. "This is a very diverse city, a very diverse school system and I think the time is now. Let's move forward."

Public Advocate Letitia James said Jewish and Muslim students make up 38 percent of the public school population.

"Instead of worrying about being hungry or when they might get their next meal, our children need to focus on their learning," James said.

New York City public school student Tahseen Choudery said being an observant Muslim creates a dilemma in the cafeteria.

"It's definitely very hard to find something you can eat," Choudery said. "It's either you pick up peanut butter and jelly or you don't eat that day."

Another student said he often buys his lunch off school grounds and on days that he forgets to bring money he said feels "lightheaded and dizzy, ultimately causing a lack of focus."

Proponents said bringing food from home is not an alternative because some parents don't have the money or time to give their children pre-made lunches.

City Hall spokesman Austin Finan issued a statement, saying "We are reviewing the bill and regularly work to accommodate the nutritional needs of our students, including offering daily vegetarian options."

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