Dearborn Public Schools’ new menus now include halal meat, in an effort to save money. According to National File, Dreaborn students will be served meat classified as halal meat by the Islamic sharia law, which will reportedly be “fresher, higher quality and more cost effective.”
“All the meat served in Dearborn will now be halal. Before some schools offered all halal, while others had a mix, which contributed to confusion about which menu was being served at which school,” said the school’s website.
While some parents are supportive of the decision, one concerned mother wrote to Dearborn schools superintendent Glenn Maleyko, saying, “Schools have never changed lunches to fit any other religious needs. If one needed a special diet due to religion or health, they did what all other students do, bring a lunch from home.”
“The decision was based on operational considerations only, not religion. By implementing an all Halal meat option we have increased the number of students that we are serving … It would cost a lot more to provide both Halal and non-Halal meat,” Maleyko answered.
He added the decision was brought after several requests from a student advisory board.
“The changes come after the district hired Southwest Foodservice Excellence (SFE) to help oversee the food service program. The company has provided nutritionists and chefs to help transition the district to a program with a much more expansive and fresh from scratch menu, including training the District staff on how to cook these meals. In addition, SFE will help improve food service operational, procurement and financial tracking systems and reinforce nutritional and safety protocols. SFE works in 150 school districts around the country offering several employee management models. In Dearborn, District employees will continue to run and staff our kitchens, working in close partnership with SFE,” the school’s website added.
“We are glad to have SFE on board and look forward to our students enjoying some fresh, flavorful meals this year,” Maleyko said. “Getting our students appealing meals is important not just to make them happy. We know good nutrition and good health improve student performance and overall quality of life.”
Joshua Bain, SFE senior general manager of food service, noted that students will see a big change in the new school menu, starting with more meals made from scratch.
(Image courtesy of Memi Beltrame)