The Rockland Marketplace is now serving kosher and halal meals for Stevenson students and staff.
Kosher foods are given to those who conform to the regulations of kashrut (Jewish dietary law), according to koshercertification.org. Only animals such as cattle, sheep, goats, deer and bison are kosher food sources. Pigs and rabbits are examples of prohibited species. Only fish with scales and fins are considered kosher; shellfish are prohibited, according to chabad.org.
Halal is an Arabic word that is defined as “permissible,” referring to food that is permitted according to Islamic law. For a meat to be certified halal, it cannot be a forbidden cut (such as meat from hindquarters) or animal (such as pork). Additionally, the animal must have been fed a natural diet that did not contain animal by-products, according to a 2014 article in the Huffington Post from the BBC news.
Kosher and Halal rules both prohibit consuming pork or animal blood of any kind. Both sets of rules also prohibit birds of prey and any other kind of bird, according to the same article.
Both of these meals were introduced because Stevenson students requested to have the options.
“It was very important for us as a staff to listen to the student body and help to provide them with what they want, so when the students came to us asking for these meals, we immediately hopped on board and go it done,” said Brian Lechuk, the food service manager on the Owings Mills campus. The meals are precooked and packaged so the chefs only have to heat them up, “almost like a T.V dinner,” said Kevin Jones, executive chef II.
KOSHER AND HALAL MEALS ON THE ROCKLAND MENU
Students have six different halal meals and four different kosher meals from which to choose. They are listed on the board near the front desk in the Rockland Marketplace. Those who would like one of these meals must go into Rockland and tell one of the chefs or a manager which meal they would like, and then wait for about 10-15 minutes for it to be ready.
The chefs at Rockland make sure that there is no cross contamination of the food. “We understand how important it is to keep this food from contamination, because this is more than just food; these are peoples’ religious beliefs,” said Lechuk.
So far not many students have tried these meals. Lechuk said that they get perhaps one or two requests a week for a halal or kosher meal from students. However, said Jones, “It feels great to be able to have these options for students and also for anyone who is visiting the campus.”
One Stevenson student said, “I really appreciate that Rockland is now serving food that conforms with students’ religious beliefs. It shows how as a community we are becoming more diverse and understating of other cultures.”
Students can pick up a comment card at the front desk in the Rockland Marketplace, and leave comments about how they liked the meal, or what they think should be done differently. They also have the ability to suggest new ideas which will further enhance the university’s diverse culture.