religious restrictions impact food selection
Sofia Rositani – Arts & Entertainment Editor
With many diverse groups on campus, that comes with many different religions with different dietary restrictions such as halal and kosher food.
Sodexo, the new food service on campus took over for Chartwells this summer, and according to general manager of Sodexo, Tony DeLuca. he said the switch from Chartwells to Sodexo was quick. Typically, he said it usually it takes 60 days minimum, but they had only four to five weeks to prepare for everything.
“We have a very good system in place to meet the needs of those students,” DeLuca said regarding student’s food needs in terms of their religion.
He said in the prior job he worked at there was a large population of students who wanted halal food, so he was able to get those products for them, but due to DeLuca only being on campus for five days he has not been able to get to know the student population yet.
However, once more time goes by he feels that if it is necessary, Sodexo can provide those specific foods to students.
“We have the resources to get halal products and if we have a big enough need for them, I can bring those in both a retail environment and the resident dining program,” said DeLuca.
Marketing Manager of Sodexo Elizabeth Floyd said the ways she will be marketing the different foods and drinks they offer at Connecticut Hall and other places on campus is through emails, social media, and having students contact her regarding different ideas they want to see on campus.
“Our biggest asset is our partners on campus so like Reslife those sorts of partners are really great at helping us spread the news because word of mouth really is so effective especially on a college campus,” Floyd said.
For organizations like Hillel Jewish student organization it has been harder to get kosher food for students during events due to the lack of Jewish stores, restaurants, and bakeries in New Haven, according to Rabbi Barbara Paris, Hillel adviser.
“Now for me and a lot of moderns I will eat salads and cold things because then I don’t have to worry if its kosher or not,” said Paris. “I know it doesn’t have pork in it or any animal products I know I am not mixing milk and meat. So, if I have salad or egg salad, I will eat that at the Southern cafeteria.”
According to Paris, she would consider herself “modern” many others may not be so they would not even buy anything from Southern’s cafeterias due to not knowing how they cook their meat, or what they make it on.
“For the people who don’t keep [kosher] it’s no different if you are eating a cupcake it’s a cupcake but for the people who keep kosher it’s important to them to know that the cupcake has nothing in it that they can’t eat,” Paris said.
Even though she has yet to get a student complaint about the lack of kosher food, she said it should still be something they look into.
“When we’re a minority it’s a little hard to demand something for the minority so I think you just do the best you can,” said Paris.
According to FindLaw, it states that schools do not have any requirements for students who have religious dietary restrictions. While they have several rights such as the right to speak to their peers about their religion, and wear religious clothing, it does not say that the school must be held accountable for their religious dietary needs.
President of Muslim Student Association Asma Rahimyar said always making sure her food is halal is a way of law and because of that she cannot eat certain foods.
“Halal food meets the dietary restrictions delineated to us by way of Islamic law; consuming any form of alcohol or meat from an animal that wasn’t slaughtered according to our standards of humane treatment, for example, is haram.” Rahimyar said, “It is also haram to cut down a tree that provides shade to passerby, just as it is haram to talk about someone in their absence.”
Even though Rahimyar said she has been able to find snacks on campus labeled Halal, she still has issues finding a meal on campus.
“I rarely eat full meals on campus, and this is because of what I mentioned regarding the need to seek out options as opposed to having them offered wherever it would be most convenient.”
“My experience might not be representative of other students’ experiences, but I do know that many of my friends leave campus if they’re looking for a full meal in between classes,” Rahimya said.
Rahimyar is a commuter but she is on campus for classes and club meetings so she said it would be helpful if they could get more options that are halal so she does not have to eat late once she is home.
“Something as seemingly mundane as our dietary choices connect me to a profound tradition.”
Photo credit: Bria Kirklin