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Saturday, September 23, 2023


SGA seeks more dining choices

The Student Government Association wants more food products that don’t contain pork, blood or shellfish available to students.

After passing an Oct. 3 resolution to diversify campus dining options and hours, the SGA wants to increase the Kosher and Halal foods available on campus.

University Center Director Keith Kowalka said Aramark, the University’s food-service provider, began offering Kosher and Halal packaged meals approximately two weeks ago.

"We’re all very excited about it," Kowalka said.

Halal food is food that meets Islamic dietary laws. It does not contain any pork or alcohol, among other requirements.

Kosher food follows Jewish dietary laws. It cannot contain pork or shellfish, and dairy and meat cannot be mixed, among other stipulations. In both dietary laws, all meat products must be examined before put on sale, animals must be killed in a specific way and when food is prepared it cannot be cooked with food that is not Kosher or Halal.

Currently, the convenience store offers Halal and Kosher products from My Own Meal – a company specializing in producing microwaveable meals.

University Studies sophomore Margo Ramirez said she appreciates the options.

"I have friends who can only eat Kosher food," she said. "So it’s a great idea to contribute to their and other students’ needs."

The University started its $15 million contract with food service provider Aramark in 2005, Kowalka said. At the end of the five-year period, the University has the option to renew the contract until 2015. Aramark was UH’s food service provider for 40 years until 1998, when UH switched to Chartwells.The University returned to Aramark in 2005.

UH Director of Business Services Esmeralda Valdez said Aramark is working to implement healthier foods for students but did not specify what criteria were being used to make decisions.

Valdez said one of the harder negotiating points is determining what students consider healthy.

Profits and sales will also be considered when negotiating Aramark’s contract.

University Center Satellite Convenience Store Manager Mary Cooper said the Halal and Kosher food items haven’t sold well.

"It’s because no one knows about them yet," Cooper said. "Once the word gets out, they’ll start selling."

Regardless, focusing on identifying students’ wants is most important, Valdez said.

"(Providing Halal and Kosher food) is not the end. It’s the beginning," Valdez said.

University Studies freshman Grassli Olvera said having Halal and Kosher options is important.

"It’s a good idea to accommodate different students’ needs," she said. "It’s good that they cater to different students and groups."

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