San Diego: Muslim parents push for halal options to be added to school lunches

SAN DIEGO – Although many schools provide free lunches for students of low-income families, many of these lunches do not accommodate the dietary restrictions imposed by different religions.

This has been particularly problematic for Muslim children, hundreds of whom have reportedly been coming home from school hungry because their schools do not offer halal foods.

“Basically, halal food is a type of meat that has been slaughtered religiously,” explained Nezar Ilaian of Mid East Market. “So we don’t process it and we don’t repackage it.”

Although this food is organic and healthier, it is not offered in many poorer communities where families depend on free school lunches to feed their children.

“That’s a major concern,” said Somali immigrant Bilal Muya, who, along with his three children, is Muslim.

Muya heads a group called the Food Justice Momentum Team; the group has already met with the San Diego Unified School District about enacting changes to the menu at public schools.