SANDIEGO: A San Diego school added “halal” food to its weekly menu after receiving complaints from Muslim parents who found their children to be going hungry.
The moves comes as part of a pilot programme that aims to serve minority students, which make up majority of the student body at Crawford High School.
Under an Obama administration program, schools qualify for universal free lunches if over 40 per cent of the families of the students qualify for some other federal assistance.
Parents complained to the school administrators that their children were coming home hungry; despite the school offering free lunches to the entire student body.
San Diego Unified’s Food Services Director Gary Petill wondered why, if all the students had access to free food, they were going hungry. It was then discovered that many of the students were not eating because the food was not halal. The school then added halal-approved chili lime chicken bowl to the menu twice a week, after which Petill said that 300 more students were eating on those days.
“It’s Mary’s Free Range, vegetarian-fed, antibiotic-free, hormone-free, air-chilled organic chicken that you’d find in Whole Foods,” Petill said.
He further noted the few cents more it costs per drumstick is offset by the larger number of students eating as schools are reimbursed by the federal government based on the number of meals served.
Even non-Muslim students enjoyed the new offering at the school cafeteria. 17-year-old Rosa Duarte joined her Muslim friends in campaigning for the halal lunches.
“I normally will not eat at school because the food options were not good,” Duarte said. “But with the halal chicken drumstick bowl, I actually am eating at school and I have more energy to go through the day and then go to my sports afterwards.”
Petil said based on early indications, the school district would continue to expand its options to meet the needs and tastes of other minority students going forward.
This article originally appeared in The Western Journalism
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