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South Dining Hall begins offering halal meat

| Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Muslim students on campus have been benefiting from a new student-led initiative that brought halal meat to South Dining Hall in September 2014.

The Notre Dame community includes “a handful” of Muslim students at the undergraduate level and many more at the graduate level, in addition to Muslim faculty and staff, according to Rosemary Max, director of international programs for Notre Dame International (NDI).

However, according to an NDI press release, undergraduate students primarily drove this change, as they were the ones who primarily made use of the dining halls.

Sophomore Hind Ourahou said she “never” made full use of her meal plan, mainly because of the lack of halal options. Meanwhile, Faisal Shariff, also a sophomore, frequently opted for Grab and Go.

Ourahou, one of the key students initiating the move, said this gesture by the University “makes us feel more welcome.”

Prior to serving halal meat, Muslim students’ dining hall meal options were limited to a mix of vegetables, pasta and other non-meat products, or students ate off campus instead. According to the press release, “halal” means “allowed” in Arabic and refers to meat taken from an animal sacrificed by a human “in the name of God, and without the use of machines.” Pork and most carnivorous animals are not allowed under halal rules.

“One of the important reasons why we wanted halal food is to attract Muslim students to apply and attend,” Shariff, who also met with University administrators, said. He said the University shares this opinion.

Max cited University President Fr. John Jenkins, who welcomed international students to campus by saying, “It is part of our Catholic character to invite students to practice their faith on campus.”

Max said the University hopes this move will also encourage “other Muslim graduate students and faculty and staff who may not typically think of the dining halls as an option for them” to eat there as well.

“Now more of us are looking forward to going to the dining hall — not just because our food is available, but also because the meat came with a feeling of recognition,” Ourahou said in the NDI press release.

Chris Abayasinghe, director of Notre Dame Food Services (NDFS), said he wants the dining halls to be accessible to all of Notre Dame’s diverse student body.

“When it comes to making our students feel at home, we want to make the experience as inclusive as possible,” he said, pointing out that South Dining Hall offers halal turkey and beef options at the stir-fry station with approximately two requests per meal on an average day.

The halal meat comes from their primary vendor, Gordon Food Service, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Abayasinghe said.

Although NDFS encountered problems sourcing the meat initially, Abayasinghe said, on the day-to-day operational front, staff were familiar with customizing meals and were able to follow the same protocol as they do for students with dietary allergies. Halal meat is individually labelled, handled with separate utensils and contained in designated storage areas.

As for now, halal meat is limited to the stir-fry station at South Dining Hall but “may be expanded to North Dining Hall” if demand supports it, Abayasinghe said.

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About Samuel Chan

Samuel Chan is a sophomore exchange student from the University of Hong Kong, double majoring in journalism and marketing. He lives in Knott Hall and has spent his life back and forth between Hong Kong and the East Coast.

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  • Arafat

    Before too long some pious Muslims will consider it offensive to attend classes with non-Muslims, and to attend mixed-gender courses. Cannot something be done to eliminate these offenses to Muslim sensibilities?
    ++
    Just kidding! Although this actually is the case in much of the Islamic world. Hmmm…

    • rude

      This comment is mean-spirited, ignorant, and uncalled for.

      • Arafat

        So were the Hebdo cartoons but they made a valid point (as is obvious by the reaction they ultimately received).
        My goal in life is not to be a nice guy, but to be an honest person who cares about the Golden Rule.
        +++
        You know, don’t you, that Muslim jihadists had conquered most of the Middle East, most of North Africa, huge sections of Asia, Spain, Portugal, southern France, Sicily BEFORE the Pope declared the First Crusade? The Pope knew it was do or die time. Think on that for a while and decide whether being nice is really a wise option.

      • So is beheading the kuffar. You willing to take a trip to Syria?

  • Wow, such willing and compliant dhimmis.

  • I hope all the Christians on campus are familiar with Acts 15:29 and act accordingly.

    abstain from meat that has been sacrificed to idols