by AUGUST KISSEL, Web Editor
Manhattan College is a private Lasallian Catholic Institution and as follows, a majority of its students identify as Christian. To accomodate all of its students the college provides worship options for as many of its students as possible, one by offering to bring the community of Jewish students to a local synagogue, as well as having a Muslim Chaplain on campus with office hours and weekly Jummah Prayer offered in the Horan Hall Meditation room.
In the past few years the student body has been calling for more dining options on campus to accommodate the dietary law that may accompany practicing a religion. The two dietary laws that the students called for were Halal and Kosher options.
According to BBC News, to follow the Halal dietary law means the process of preparing the meat includes the care of the animal before it is killed and that it must be a healthy animal. The animal is then killed in a particular way and with the proper sharpened tools to alleviate animal suffering. Lastly, the meat is killed in name of Allah so that the killing of the animal has a purpose.
Sophomore Fatoumata Saho has been one of the key advocates for Halal and Kosher options for commuter and resident students.
“As a Muslim student and a person who lives on campus, it is so hard to find Halal options on campus and around campus, and if the school had the ability to provide the right foods for the students then the students would not have to go all the way out of their way to find Halal food, where it is more likely to be expensive, it would be more beneficial for those students to have the food here on campus,” said Saho
Saho is one of the student representatives for the Food Service Committee, which is a group that works with head of Gourmet Dining, Nick Valinotti, and the team to provide dining options for the variety of students on campus.
“When the students talk we listen. We really concentrated on reinventing the center circle of Locke’s to make it more friendly for all when it comes to dietary restrictions,” said Valinotti.
Saho and Valinotti met and worked together to create accessible options to the resident and the commuter population. For Saho, this meant meeting with both Valinotti and Brittany Trainor, the registered dietician on campus to discuss the breakdowns of what she felt was best for the MC community.
“Just this past semester, we have added gluten free, vegan and Halal options in retail because commuters voiced their preferences when it came to this during our Food Service Committee meetings led by Fatoumata Saho,” added Valinotti.
These options are located in Locke’s Loft, Cafe 1853, and Kelly Commons to residents and commuters. As a former commuter herself, Saho was aware of student demographics and wanted to be sure that the options were available to resident and commuter students equally.
“I used to be a commuter, as a commuter there are days where you don’t have time to pack up your food for the day, and a lot of commuters are Muslim students, so having the food available for the students to be able to grab and eat it is so much easier to be on campus and so I just thought ‘hey, let’s get some Halal options,” said Saho.
In Cafe 1853 the Halal options are located with the prepackaged meals that are for sale in the refrigerator. In Kelly Commons, there is also a refrigerator with prepackaged foods, as well as the ability to order any meal with Halal meat as a substitute and it will be prepared and served hot for the students. The last option is that in Locke’s Loft, the resident can go online and request their meal so that is is prepared when they arrive to Lockes and ready to eat.
“Gourmet Dining was really accommodating, to be honest when I started this I didn’t know how long it was going to take, because I would thought it was going to take a lot longer, but Nick and Gourmet Dining in general were really into making sure that this was available for students and that all of our requests were answered,” said Saho.
If a student was interested in gaining more options they can contact Trainor at her email BTrainor@gourmetdiningllc.com. They will have a one on one meeting with her to discuss their requests so that Gourmet Dining will be able to accommodate their needs to the best of their ability.
Students are also welcome to join the Food Service Committee to partake in the regular discussions taking place regarding creating more options in the different dining locations.
“We try our best to accommodate all dietary restrictions and preferences. We are always looking to evolve the program and find it helpful when students voice their requests to show that there is a building interest to show the College that there needs to be an adjustment or addition in the food service program. All we would ask is that any student that has any type of need when it comes to food service is to give us the opportunity by meeting with us to better understand the needs,” said Valinotti.