KU Dining Services looking to provide more kosher and halal options
- Sep. 17, 2012
- 1 Comment
It has never been easy to get kosher or halal food at dining halls or cafeterias on campus. Now that is about to change.
Iesha Kincaid, the president of Muslim Student Association, said that it is inconvenient Muslim students can’t go to dining halls on campus or most restaurants in Lawrence.
“When we go out and eat we usually go vegetarian or some people eat fish,” Kincaid said. “If I’m going to eat meat, at least I want to make sure that the animals are slaughtered humanly and they were in clean environment.”
Kincaid said many Muslim students chose to cook at home even though they were busy with school.
Jewish students face similar challenges.
Rabbi Zalman Tiechtel from the Rohr Chabad Center for Jewish Life said there are about 800 Jewish students at the University and many of them cook kosher food in their kosher kitchens at home.
“Can you imagine you are hungry and there’s no way to buy a good meal on campus and this is your home, this is where you live and where you go to school?” Tiechtel said. “If you can buy a kosher lunch or kosher hot dogs on campus that would be so meaningful to many Jewish students.”
In the past two years, Tiechtel has worked with dining services to make kosher food available. Now KU Dining Services is in the process of designing food selections to accommodate special dietary needs at Mrs. E’s for the next academic year.
Sheryl Kidwell, the assistant director of KU dining services, said they are trying to make it financially feasible and feasible to all the other customers. She said that overher 29 years at KU Dining Services, students have become more willing to try different cuisine.
“We are more than food, we are dining experience,” Kidwell said. “The new design would not only be beneficial to those students who have religious preferences but also it’s an educational experience and opportunity for other students.”
Kosher food, which prepared according the Jewish guidelines, and halal, the food prepared by Islamic guidelines, share many common ingredients. Both prohibit swine and most reptile meat. All seafood is considered halal, but shellfish is prohibited in kosher foods. Tiechtel said halal and kosher are different but when a product is suitable as kosher, 99 percent of the time it’s going to work as halal as well.
The number of universities that provide halal or kosher food in the U.S. is limited. According to Hillel.org, the website of the world largest Jewish campus organization, 101 out of 938 universities and colleges provide full kosher meal plans for students. Kosher meals are not available in 110 colleges and the rest serve kosher on Jewish holidays like Shabbat. A 2010 report by Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America, “Halal Food Options in U.S. Higher Education Campus Cafeteria,” shows that among the 135 universities surveyed, nearly 12 percent serve full or partial halal meal plans, about 11 percent serve halal during Ramadan or special occasions and the rest don’t provide any halal food.
Kidwell said KU Dining Services will conduct a survey and focus groups with students within the next few weeks to learn what students expect at the special dietary section.
Tiechtel said students appreciate the respect and support of KU Dining Services and the openness of the University, especially since making kosher food requires a lot of effort.
“I think it’s a very good lesson for Lawrence community of the importance of being considerate and driving extra miles for the needs of another person, regardless of the difference of each other,” Tiechtel said.
The Market at Kansas Union will serve kosher hot dogs every Wednesday beginning Oct. 3. Dining Services will conduct a trial run on Wednesday.
— Edited by Luke Ranker