Wednesday, October 31st, 2012...2:53 pm
Scrambling for kosher food
AJW Staff Report
The AJW this week confirmed with several reputable sources that Twin City Poultry, the only local kosher food distributor, has closed.
The AJW attempted to contact the company, but calls went unanswered. The AJW did reach a company sales manager who said he had been laid off. The Web site, www.tcpoultry.com, does not work and is listed as “currently under construction.”
In September, Twin City Poultry released a statement acknowledging “major management issues” and announced it had “a firm plan in place to rebuild and restructure” the company (9-28-12 AJW).
Writing for Twin Cities Daily Planet, Stephanie Fox noted that Twin City Poultry is one of the largest distributors of kosher food in the country and the only one in the Upper Midwest; the next closest wholesale source is in Chicago.
Sara Cooper, the owner of Cooper’s Foods, in Sibley Plaza, St. Paul, has had a dedicated kosher section since 2005 and is already looking for other sources.
“They (Twin City Poultry) haven’t told us anything, but for two weeks, they took our orders for milk and then told us that we weren’t getting it,” she told Fox. “As far as the Israeli products, we’ve been able to get a few things, but we don’t have an ideal supply chain set up.”
Cooper said her family-run store can still get challah bread and sweet pastries from Chicago and they’ve made arrangements to buy milk and fresh meat directly from the sources, but she’s not sure what to do about anything else.
Cooper is planning to attend the KosherFest 2012 food show in Secaucus, N.J., in mid-November to find new sources.
“We’re committed to having the food the Jewish community around our stores need and we’ll work hard to have the food people need to eat,” she said.
The community is already working to find solutions. In an e-mail from Rabbi Yechezkel Greenberg, of Congregation Bais Yisroel in St. Louis Park, which was made available to the AJW, he outlined the “ongoing efforts in regards to the grocery situation here in Minneapolis.”
According to Rabbi Greenberg, Cub, Byerly’s, Rainbow and Costco are carrying product, as they have made arrangements with other suppliers. He also noted that Trader Joe’s carries Empire brand chicken.
Concerning Cholov Yisrael milk, Greenberg said community members are working with Cub to supply milk and that Cooper’s also stocks Cholov Yisrael milk.
Greenberg also announced that a possibility exists to start a type of co-op service for bulk purchases. Information will be forthcoming.
According to Fox’s article, only about 15 percent of American Jews keep kosher, but a growing number of non-Jews believe kosher meat is healthier, and some Muslims substitute kosher for halal.