University of Maryland students are praising this university’s first-ever halal food station located in the 251 North Dining Hall.
The new station, which opened in August, serves halal food that is certified by the Islamic Services of America, a member of the World Halal Food Council. The food is prepared and cooked on surfaces dedicated for halal foods — separate from equipment used for non-halal foods.
The addition is part of a proposal submitted in March by the Halal Food Standards Alliance of America, a non-profit organization that certifies halal food, and Muslim Student Association to increase options for Muslim students at dining halls.
Halal — “permissible” in Arabic — refers to foods that are lawful to eat for Muslims. In order for meat to be considered “halal,” the animal must be slaughtered according to Islamic guidelines. This includes, but is not limited to, mentioning God’s name when killing the animal in a swift and painless manner, according to the Islamic Services of America.
Foods containing pork and the meat of carnivores are also forbidden in order to be considered “halal.”
Currently, all three dining halls at this university serve “halal-friendly” foods— meaning the food was prepared with halal ingredients, according to Dining Services spokesperson Bart Hipple.
But “halal-friendly” foods are prepared on equipment that was once used for non-halal foods, though the equipment was cleaned and sterilized, Hipple added.
According to Hipple, the new station in 251 North prepares halal meat separate from equipment used to prepare non-halal options.
“We want all of our resident students to be able to eat confidently and comfortably,” Hipple said.
Before she knew about the new halal food station, freshman journalism and public policy major Farah Rahman said she only consumed vegetarian foods at dining halls. Rahman, who only eats halal food, said the addition of the new station made her “really happy” due to the more diverse offerings for Muslim students.
“[Eating halal] is important to me because it’s one of the values of Islam,” Rahman said. “It’s something that I wanted to continue in college. I didn’t want to give that up just because there weren’t options.”
Like Rahman, sophomore environmental science and technology major Jishan Chowdhury said he had no expectations for Dining Services to incorporate halal meat options.
Chowdhury said that without the dining halls’ halal options, he considered only consuming vegan options, but noted he is “thankful” for the additions.
Currently, the new station only serves chicken — supplied by Midamar Corporation, a global halal food brand and supply chain company.
According to Hipple, Midamar chicken costs three times more than other chicken served in dining halls.
The university is working on a contract with another supplier because Midamar is unable to keep up with the university’s usage, Hipple said.
“Halal meats are more expensive, because to keep the product halal requires additional and dedicated equipment,” Hipple said.
The new options also garnered support from members of this university’s MSA.
Junior information science and operations management and business analytics major Adam Ghannoum, who is MSA’s president, emphasized that he is grateful for the new halal options.
“It means a lot that the university is able to give us that option of halal,” Ghannoum said. “When it comes to meat, [Muslims] have to eat something that is slaughtered the halal way.”