South High School is testing offering halal food options after a Muslim student’s request, according to the school district’s superintendent, Bill Heidenreich.
“I’m really happy that it happened,” said SHS senior Fatima Moien, 17. “And I’m really shocked that it happened so quick.”
Halal refers to what is permissible or lawful in traditional Islamic law, meaning that practicing Muslims can eat only meat that has been slaughtered in a ritual way, similar to some of the dietary restrictions of the Jewish kosher.
A pilot program of halal food options began last week at SHS, a junior-senior high school. (Students in grades 10 to 12 throughout the district are permitted to leave campus for lunch.) Interested students can place orders for the day or week before 9 a.m. Heidenreich said that only a handful of students have taken part so far. After Moien’s request, Heidenreich said, he called Whitsons Culinary Group, with which the district has a food service contract, to add the option for a trial period.
“If we can accommodate a reasonable request, we will,” he said.
Moien started thinking about the project last year, she explained, as part of a project for Franco Visone’s American history class in which students think about affecting change. A disagreement between Visone and SHS Principal Maureen Henry stalled the project in June: Visone claimed that Henry tried to alter the assignment and filed a grievance with the Valley Stream Teacher’s Association in June, which Henry denied.
“She demonstrated a lot of maturity,” Visone said of Moien. “Most adults would feel too uncomfortable to continue.”
Moien said she surveyed students to prove that there was enough interest in the initiative. “It would be really cool to see this happen as a movement across a lot of schools,” she said.
“She went and did it anyway for just the purest of intentions, for improving her school for her younger siblings,” Visone added. “It’s such a beautiful, American thing to do. And the fact that she did it so professionally and persistently is simply extraordinary.”