Halal options to be offered in UMass Boston Dining

By the Home food station you can view a monitor which displays an array of slides with dining, food allergen and dietary information.

It is important that people of all cultures and backgrounds be given the food options that they need. In the spirit of doing just that, UMass Boston Dining has recently added Halal dining options all over campus in response to a request by the Muslim community at the university. With the management team—along with other university leadership—working together with the Muslim community at UMass Boston, the new option has been added wherever it has been determined to be most beneficial. Now the Muslim community can dine on campus without having to stress about the condition of the meat!

For non-Islamic readers who may not be aware of what Halal means, its literal meaning is “permissible”. To expand on that, Halal food is food that adheres to Islamic law (1). Not all meat meets these qualifications. For example, a dedication—the tasmiya or shahada—is recited during the process in which an animal is killed that will become meat. 

To ensure that students and staff can access food that meets Halal specifications, Halal options have been added to on-campus dining. A green box with a white “H” marks Halal options, which can be found all over the food court. The deli’s grilled chicken and chicken salad, the entirety of the salad bar’s chicken options, along with the Chef’s Table’s five week rotation of concepts—CHOW, M&C, Pho Nam, Marinara and Spice Market—and all of Sal’s Pizza’s chicken options are Halal. In fact, all chicken breast is being purchased as Halal, and that goes for all meal periods! (2)

Halal options are also available in the dining commons. The same “H” will be used to mark food here. So, whether you’re a commuter who makes a brief stop at the food court between classes or you live on campus and walk to the dining commons multiple times a day, Halal offerings are available to you.

The utensils used are specific to the product to ensure that no cross-contamination occurs. In the same spirit of doing as much as they can, the University is currently sourcing a new Halal hamburger patty. It will most likely be offered upon request at the Dining Commons and Beacon Cafe. 

The issue was first brought to UMass Boston’s attention by a student named Humza Ali. He said that, “On the behalf of the Muslim community at UMass Boston, we deeply appreciate your help and support on this.” 

The Special Assistant to the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at UMass Boston, Michael Metzger, Ph.D., stated that “[This is] a wonderful reflection of our anti-racist campus aim in motion through the culinary experience.” Due to other feedback, the university will be exploring other proteins that may be available soon. 

Of course, the University wants to make sure that communication stays open between them and their students and staff.  So, if you have any concerns over the food being offered, whether for religious, dietary or allergy related reasons, please feel free to contact them. Specifically, contact the Campus Dietician, Gabrielle Mele R.D., L.D.N. Her email is gabrielle.mele@sodexo.com. An in-depth nutrition page can be found at this link: https://umb.sodexomyway.com/explore/nutrition

Hopefully this makes eating on campus easier for the Muslim community at UMass Boston. It is important to be as welcoming as possible to all communities, especially for a place that prides itself on its diversity and defines itself on teaching and helping people reach an understanding built on what was learned. Hopefully, steps like this one help us reach that ideal.

1. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-27324224 

2. https://spark.adobe.com/page/oyoSJqBZLB4HY/

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