Halal Options needed at South

Sara Rahman and Layla Mohammed

Halal lunches can look different. It can even have a chicken sandwich with halal meat. But at South, a halal lunch consists of a mundane uncrustable or boring boxed salad. 

When Muslim students like us walk into the school’s cafeteria,  we feel excluded because of the lack of halal foods for students. Our options are limited to only a few of the food dishes while other students experience fewer to no food limitations. Despite South’s efforts to be inclusive to Muslim students’ needs, more can be done. 

“Halal” is an Arabic word meaning lawful or permitted, and in reference to food, it is a dietary standard prescribed in the Holy Quran, According to the Islamic Council of Victoria. The Quran is the holy book for Muslims that is the word of God, and it contains guidance for humankind. Dietary restrictions for Muslims include: not consuming pork, gelatin; improperly slaughtered animals, -, and more. It’s frustrating not having food in the cafeteria that accommodates your dietary needs that correlate with your religion. 

Halal food also includes the concept of avoiding cross contaminations with non-halal foods. For example, if a vegetable sandwich was made for a Muslim student, but was cross-contaminated with a ham sandwich, it would defeat the purpose of choosing the vegetarian option.

South’s food service, Quest Food Management Services, said that they provide a wide variety of foods applicable to South students, and would be willing to approach any accommodations the community requests, according to Tim Almy, Quest’s Foodservice director.

Even though Muslim students’ diets are very particular and specific, it is certainly possible to be accommodated – If South can accommodate vegan, kosher, and organic options, we feel that halal foods can also be included in the menu. – As an example, there are 43 schools in the state of New York that modify their lunch options so that halal food is included, Jillian Jorgensen from Spectrum News NY1 said. 

Additionally, the process of getting halal accommodations at school would be fairly accessible. In just the Chicago area alone, there are multiple Zabiha Halal meat shops, like the Fresh Zabiha Super Market Halal meat and the YaSeen Zabiha Halal shop both on Devon Road, that would be available to work with Quest in providing applicable meat sorts for the Muslim students here. 

Casey Wright, Associate Principal for administrative services, discussed being open to expanding food options to accommodate all students. 

“We want to be able to support students, and their experiences with [our cafeteria],” Wright said.

   Furthermore, freshman Asma Ghomrawi, alumni of the Muslim Community Center Academy in Skokie, Illinois, expressed her opinion on having no options for halal meals in the cafeteria. 

“Everyday, I see people with chicken bites and different foods that are more filling than the french fries or pasta. Ghomrawi said, ” I used to attend Islamic school where everything was okay to eat because it was halal. Coming here with no options for any type of meat makes me want halal food options in the cafeteria.” 

The struggle of finding a lunch that accommodates your religious beliefs is draining. This change needs to start with Quest Foods. Action needs to be taken to give current Muslim students and future ones at South an inclusive dietary environment.