University agrees to fund halal food in u-turn following student petition
A row over halal food at a Lancashire university emerged during the month of Ramadan but a u-turn will now see the university help to fund the meals.
UCLan’s Students’ Union (SU) previously criticised the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) for what it called a lack of a halal food provision.
The university originally rejected SU proposals to fund free, halal food during Ramadan because it is a 'secular' institution.
SU president Zuleikha Chikh said: “Halal food is a dietary requirement that should be accommodated for by an educational establishment.
"We believe the absence of culturally appropriate food options on campus puts Muslim students at a disadvantage.”
Following a campaign and petition signed by 400 students, the university changed its position.
A spokesperson said: “In an initiative to welcome students back following the recent break, relieve the pressure of revision time, and to thank them for keeping each other safe this past year, the University has been offering free food and drink on campus since 12 April.
“As part of this offer, and as a way of continuing to meet the catering needs of our diverse student body, we have supported an approach from our Students’ Union to provide a halal food option during Ramadan from our Harrington Refectory.
The spokesperson said that UCLan will ‘consider’ providing halal food beyond Ramadan.
In response to the news, Zuleikha Chikh said: “The Students’ Union has been working hard with the University to find a solution to support the provision of Halal food...
“We are delighted that a solution has been found with funding provided by the University, key support from Students’ Union Islamic Society and a number of student volunteers.
“At a time when many students are away from families and observing Ramadan, we wanted to do all we could with the University to build an inclusive community on campus.
“Great things can happen when the University community comes together.”
Not all students are happy with the move and one, Michelle Welch, commented: “I felt I was ignorant in knowing what makes some meat halal and what does not, so have done my own research.
“From what I have read, only some animals are stunned before being slaughtered. “Personally I feel this is inhuman.
“If all animals were stunned prior to slaughter I would not have an issue with the university providing halal meat.
“My diet is mainly plant based and [I] only eat higher welfare animal products.
“A better alternative would have more healthy plant based options, which would be inclusive to all.”
The Students’ Union, in partnership with the Students’ Union Islamic Society, and now the university, provided 300 free, click and collect meals for students breaking fast (Iftar) on Tuesday (April 13).
This will continue to be offered to all students, regardless of their faith, throughout the month of Ramadan.
UCLan’s Imam praised this ‘amazing support in providing free hot meals to UCLan students’.
The meals are part of a wider free food offering for students and in a recent ‘Student Hardship Survey’, UCLan SU found that 43% of students were concerned about being able to afford food.
Students can collect hot and cold drinks, sandwiches, soup, fruit, and a selection of hot meals from the Preston campus between 12 pm and 5 pm.
This offer continues into the evening when students can collect free food and drink between 5 pm and 9 pm.
More information about free food for students can be found at the Students’ Union website.
What is ‘halal’?
Halal is Arabic for ‘permissible’, and halal food is considered to adhere to Islamic law and the Koran, therefore it is considered suitable for consumption by Muslims.
A debate continues about elements of halal, like if stunning should be allowed before slaughter.
Some have expressed concern about the stunning of animals before they are slaughtered and have called for halal meat to be clearly labelled as a result.
There is no legal requirement to stun animals before slaughter in the UK but the RSPCA says that 58% of Halal meat comes from animals who were stunned prior to slaughter.
Food Standards Agency figures from 2019 show that 94 million animals were slaughtered without pre-stunning in 2018.