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Muslim Students Struggle to Find Dining Options During Ramadan

With dietary restrictions during the month of Ramadan, USD’s Muslim students are struggling to adhere to their religious obligations with the current dining options on campus.

Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, is a time of fasting and prayer for Muslims worldwide. Muslims are not permitted to eat or drink from sunrise to sunset.

Talha Khan, a freshman majoring in business/innovation and entrepreneurship from Islamabad, Pakistan, said the lack of Halal beef and chicken make dining difficult.

“We have to go to Sioux Falls to get the chicken for us, which can be quite embarrassing because none of us own cars,” Khan said. “You’d have to go for vegetarian and since I go to the gym, I can’t fulfill my protein requirements.” 

Halal, meaning ‘lawful’ in Arabic, defines items or practices that are permissible in Islam. For chicken or beef to be considered Halal, it must be slaughtered from the neck while reciting a prayer. The consumption of pork is strictly forbidden in Islam.

Khan uses a takeaway container to eat food from the cafeteria after sunset. He is only allowed one container for dinner and the following day’s breakfast.

“I usually reheat the mug if I have some left, but if not, I go to the C-Store and I get food from there,” Khan said. “Because of that, I’ve used all of my Flex. I have about 50 bucks right now. Before Ramadan, I think it was about 400.”

Sodexo’s General Manager, Julia Neer, said she was first made aware of concerns about dining hours and Halal on April 3.

“We immediately worked with OMA (Office of Multicultural Affairs) to provide reusable to-go containers for Muslim students to pick up food in the dining hall to reheat after sundown,” Neer said.

Neer also stated that future Halal dining options were discussed for the fall with a student.

Khan hopes the dining hall will remain open later during Ramadan in the future.

“It would be highly appreciated if the timings go to 8:15, that way the food will be fresh,” Khan said.

Ramadan began March 22 and ends on April 20.