Michelle O’s ‘Healthy’ Lunches Now Serving Halal Food ➠ Catering To Muslim Kids ‘Going Hungry’ In School
At the request of Muslim parents, a San Diego school district has added “halal” food to its weekly menu.
The change is part of a pilot program to better serve the minority students that make up most of the student body at Crawford High School, which is in the City Heights district of northeast San Diego. Among other minorities, the community has a large Muslim community, mostly from North Africa.
Islam is the fastest growing religion in San Diego Country, growing 55 percent during the last decade, according to the most recent census data. As of 2010, there were over 25,000 followers in the country. In comparison, there were over 800,000 Catholics and approximately 150,000 non-denominational Christians.
Parents complained to Crawford High School administrators that their children were coming home hungry, despite the school offering free lunches to the entire student body. Under an Obama administration program, schools qualify for universal free lunches if over 40 percent of the families of the students qualify for some other federal assistance.
San Diego Unified’s Food Services Director Gary Petill wondered why, if all the students are able to eat for free, they were going hungry.
What he discovered is that many were not eating because the food was not “halal”–in other words, permissible under the Muslim religion.
Under the religion’s requirements, all pork products are forbidden; and in order to eat other types of meat, the animal must first be dedicated to “Allah” before it is slaughtered.
Petil says that since the school added halal-approved chili lime chicken bowl to the menu twice a week, 300 more students are eating on those days. More