SAN DIEGO – In an effort to meet students’ demand, a San Diego school has added halal launches to its menus, following campaigns by the students’ parents.
“I normally will not eat at school because the food options were not good,” Rosa Duarte, 17, told KPBS on Wednesday, May 20.
“But with the halal chicken drumstick bowl, I actually am eating at school and I have more energy to go through the day and then go to my sports afterwards.” Duarte is one of many Muslim students at Crawford High School located in the City Heights neighborhood, which is home to immigrants from Mexico, Southeast Asia and East Africa.
The decision followed calls by parents involved in the Mid-City CAN non-profit to San Diego Unified Foodservices that their kids were not eating lunch at school.
“All students here eat for free, so you have to ask yourself, why weren’t they eating with us before?” Petill said.
“If students are eating, they can learn. If they don’t eat, they can’t learn,” Petill said.
“We really try to work with the communities to best fit the food choices that they have, because we want students to eat,” Petill added. “We have a very large Hispanic population so we want to have maybe ‘Taco Tuesday’ or serve a bean and cheese burrito, or in a community with an Asian community, an Asian chicken bowl.”
The situation changed after the school cafeteria began serving the new chilli lime chicken bowl.
Now, 300 students who previously didn’t eat school lunches are lining up at the cafeteria.
Crawford parent Mariam Ali said she’s noticed a big change in her son when he gets home on halal lunch days.
“Before, I’d say, ‘OK, how was your day today?’ ‘I’m hungry. I didn’t eat the food,’” Ali said. “I know he’s starving.”
Ali said now, “He grabs some snacks – crackers or cookies – and he starts doing his homework.”
Ali said she wants to see the pilot program extend into next year and expand to other schools in the area.