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Friday, January 28, 2022

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Halal options offer Muslim students wider variety in food choices


The University of Houston is known as the second most diverse college in the nation. That being said, it is no surprise that there is a wide array of religions that UH students actively practice.

One of the more largely practiced religions on campus is Islam. The Muslim Student Association has been working with UH Dining Services in order to better the halal food options available in the dining halls for the Muslim student population.

In recent years, with help and suggestions from MSA, dining services have successfully been able to install a halal station at the Fresh Food Company dining hall in Moody Towers. This has proven to be a vast improvement for the University in welcoming and sustaining students’ varying cultures and beliefs.

“When I first came to UH, in the Fall of 2012, the halal options were extremely limited, and I can’t remember a single food truck or dining hall that offered halal meat,” chemical engineering senior and president of the MSA, Ahmed Sarraj said. “But three years later, seeing that halal chicken is now even offered at the Bullritos on campus, this situation has changed for the better.”

Increasing the halal options on campus is an example of the thriving and diversified atmosphere that UH is continuing to foster. The Muslim student community has shown gratitude towards the dining services’ halal incorporation.

“I really appreciate the fact that the school is (making) an effort to accommodate different groups of people especially when it comes to Muslims living in today’s society,” chemical engineering freshman Usayd Siddiqi said. “The campus’ halal availability is also an opportunity for other students who previously were not familiar with what halal was, to be exposed to this particular culture.”

Although UH is doing a good job of beginning to accommodate certain individual’s religious beliefs, some of the members of MSA suggest there be a wider variety of dietary options. A station dedicated to halal choices is a great start, but Muslim students would like to eventually see halal being incorporated into the entirety of the dining hall menus.

Nevertheless, those working with the station at the Fresh Foods Company are heedful towards the process that goes into preparing halal.

“The station is equipped with cookware and utensils that are used only to prepare the halal dishes,” UH Dining Services Marketing Manager Emily Fahner said, “We are constantly reevaluating and improving the program.”

Not only are they expanding halal options in the dining halls, but Dining Services have also spread to the food trucks parked around UH as well.  The Chopped N Smoked BBQ food truck came to campus this fall semester. With its food selections being halal friendly, the Muslim students on campus have greatly appreciated the new tasty variety. This includes beans, potato salad and halal brisket, which extends past the food choices offered just at the dining hall in Moody Towers.

“I have tried Chopped N Smoked several times already, and I think it’s delicious,” Sarraj said, “I’m a huge fan of BBQ and the fact that it’s halal makes it that much better.”

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