Halal Foods addition to Cafeteria in February

Jessie Norwood and Sara Rahman

In a step towards inclusion for Muslim students in the cafeteria, a new menu of Halal meat options will soon be available to students in late February, Tim Almy, Director of Quest Food Services, District 225’s food service provider, said.

‘Halal’ means lawful in Arabic and refers to the food Muslims and several other communites are permitted by the Qur’an—the holy book of Islam—to consume, according to the Islamic Council of Victoria. Specifically, this term is associated with the processing and preparation of meat in which a blessing is said and the animal is killed in the least painful way possible.

Almy explained schools are often unaware of students’ desires and rely on student feeback in order to improve their service.

“[The addition of Halal foods] was based upon a request to explore options,” Almy said. “We’re not aware of some of the things students would like to see in the cafeteria, so the only way we can find out [what students want] is if they ask us.”

South’s administration began working to provide Halal options in response to a student column in The Oracle on Dec. 17 that pointed out the lack of food options in the cafeteria for Muslim students.

Interim Principal Dr. Rosanne Williamson expressed the addition of Halal foods as a positive and inclusive addition to South.

“We know we have [a very diverse] student body,” Williamson said. “We want to make sure we’re responding to the needs of all our students, regardless of whether they’re the majority of the student population or not. I’m sure [the student’s article] did [bring the issue to the district’s attention].”

Once South received the request, Quest consulted Niles North High School, which already offers Halal options, Almy said. The menu options at South will be mainly based on student demand and how popular the menu items are amongst students, he said.

“We need to know how many students are interested in this.” Almy said. “I’m asking [about] specific items, then we can continue to explore whether or not it’s necessary to go through this process of [kitchen and preparation] certification.”

To Muslim students, the option of Halal food makes lunch at school more inclusive, freshman Zoya Haider said. Originally, some Muslim students expressed the cafeteria food was not sufficient for their needs.

“Having Halal options will help Muslim students feel welcomed and not excluded from the food our school provides,” Haider said.

The upcoming addition of Halal food has created a sense of belonging among students, as well as a renewed sense of belonging in the school community, junior Inayah Mohammed expressed.

“[The addition of Halal food] would support us in feeling inclusive in the South lunch environment,” Mohammed said. “As a Muslim student, I am beyond excited for this new option and the service it provides for the students at our school.”