Halal dining at Smith: room for improvement

Photo Courtesy Of blog.perkinswill.com | Zoya Azhar ’20 shares her experiences with halal dining at Smith and how the meals might be improved.


Zoya Azhar ‘20
Opinions Editor

In general, being a Muslim at Smith has been a positive experience for me. This is primarily because of how strong the Muslim community’s presence is on campus. Al-Iman is a wonderful organization, which holds regular meetings and provides plenty of opportunities to meet and mingle with other Muslims. The organization’s leadership is approachable, inclusive and kind. During my first few months at Smith, I ended up spending a lot of my mealtimes with and leaning on Al-Iman folk. The day following the Presidential election results, it was my Al-Iman family I turned to.

However, all of that being said, the one aspect of Muslim life I would like to bring attention to is halal dining. Halal food is served in the Cutter-Ziskind dining hall twice (sometimes thrice) a day, and I am grateful for this effort. I have talked to friends on other campuses who struggle because of no halal options available to them at all. Most of the time, they have to change their diets entirely and resort to being vegetarians for the time they are at college.

While Smith is certainly better than this, there is still room for improvement. For instance, I feel between kosher, normal and vegetarian and halal dining (the dining options available at Cutter-Ziskind dining hall), it is usually halal which is the least appetizing. There have been countless occasions where our meat is simply too tough or too tasteless to eat. And in the next window, one can see that the non-halal meat options look like a more appetizing choice. For example, whenever General Tso chicken is served, I know to remember that it will be General Tso Chicken – battered and all – for everyone else, but for me it will be boiled chicken fillets set on a watered down sauce.

It is also important to mention that there have been nights when the halal food has been good. One night in particular, they were serving beef and mushrooms in gravy and I made sure to let the chef know it was a great meal.

This piece is not meant to add to the idea that college dining is disappointing by default. While it may border on being a complaint; this is not the intention. The intention is simply to urge Dining Services to put a little more thought into the halal menus, and perhaps also consider one other dining location to serve halal food options in.

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