Harvard University Dining Services is in the process of ensuring that the majority of chicken served in its dining halls is halal, according to a statement from a HUDS spokesperson.
Halal is a certification under Islamic food law describing the “ethical and legal parameters required for food consumption,” according to Khalil Abdur-Rashid, a Muslim chaplain at Harvard. The chicken served must have been free-grazed and humanely killed, among other guidelines.
In 2015, HUDS began serving halal chicken on grills in all dining halls, following a student survey demonstrating Muslim students’ preference for healthier protein options.
“HUDS has a long history of partnering with our Muslim chaplains on campus and the community to support halal meals in undergraduate student dining halls,” wrote Crista Martin, director of strategic initiatives and communications at HUDS Dining Services. Harvard University, in an emailed statement.
“Our work to support diners who eat halal has included labeling menu options containing alcohol and pork in our online menus; as well as the provision of halal-certified grilled chicken on all College restaurant grills,” she added.
The current change is the result of HUDS identifying a “local collective of small family farms that provides antibiotic-free chicken that is also processed in a way that allows it to achieve halal certification,” Martin wrote.
Abdur-Rashid wrote in an emailed statement that “halal-certified proteins are an essential part of Muslim life on campus.”
“I deeply appreciate all of Harvard University Dining’s efforts to expand halal dining. HUDS has been and continues to be a strong partner with our office and they have ensured that the diverse needs of our students are met in the most authentic and appropriate manner,” he wrote.
While an email on January 22 initially announced the change as planned for the 26th, a follow-up email on January 28 informed students that it would take “a few more weeks” for all chickens to be halal certified, according to an email to the Office of the Muslim Chaplain at the University mailing list.
But Martin indicated that the change could exceed that time frame, writing “we hope that in the next six to 12 months we will be able to make this transition.”
“This work is part of our broader strategic vision to deliver a hospitality experience that fosters community, prioritizes health, cultural connections and religious sensitivity, challenges food systems conventions and innovates tirelessly,” she added.
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