Halal dietary options for Muslim students in the West pose many challenges as Muslims should only eat halal meat.
This is no longer the case for Muslim students in Atlantic City as the city’s school district will begin serving halal food five days a week at several elementary schools and the high school.
“We’ve heard the community,” Superintendent Barry Caldwell said at the start of Tuesday’s regular school board meeting, The Press of Atlantic City reported.
The new menus with halal options is the result of three-year effort spearheaded by Muslim board member Farook Hossain.
Caldwell thanked board President Shay Steele and board member Subrata Chowdhury for their efforts to get the new food options approved.
The decision has won praise from the local Muslim community.
“I think it’s an amazing step forward,” Selaedin Maksut, of the New Jersey Chapter for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said.
“I’ve been in communication with officials from Paterson, Jersey City, Prospect Park and other towns across the state that have begun rolling out halal meals for their students, and I think it’s an amazing initiative to see that Atlantic City is doing the same thing.”
Maksut also thanked Hossain, who he said “has worked tirelessly to get this program up and running.”
“It really goes to show the importance of representation in leadership,” he said.
Halal is an Arabic word that means “permissible.”
The term, commonly used for meat, also applies to other food products, cosmetics, personal care products, and pharmaceuticals which mustn’t be derived from non-halal sources like pork.
For example, Islam considers wines, alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, E-cigs, hookah and other unhealthy things to be non-halal.