Hamza Mirza, treasurer of the MSA and a fourth-year history student, said business closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic have contributed to a lack of options for Muslim students who require halal meals.
“The problem is … companies closing down creating supply chain issues,” Mirza said. “They weren’t able to get halal meat on the Hill.”
Mirza said before the pandemic, UCLA Dining provided students with adequate halal options on the Hill.
“There were halal options on the Hill,” Mirza said. “I lived there for two years. It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t super difficult.”
Hodari Yusef Harris II, the external vice president of the MSA and a public affairs graduate student, said Muslim students have been working with UCLA administrators to secure more halal menu options in dining halls.
“We’re just asking for better dining options that follow these recommendations,” he said.
In an effort to expand the variety of halal meal options served on the Hill, which currently includes pre-packaged halal meals from Epicuria, UCLA Dining is working to identify additional halal vendors, UCLA spokesperson Bill Kisliuk said. All lamb served by UCLA Dining is certified halal, and all halal meat is labeled in the UCLA Dining menu, Kisliuk added in an emailed statement.
Mirza, Harris and Najia Saleem, the outreach director of MSA’s Beautiful Mind Project and a second-year physiological sciences student, expressed optimism about their negotiations with UCLA and the completion of these projects.
“Some of that stuff is just logistical. We completely understand,” Mirza said. “But it’s still an issue that there’s students on the Hill going around to dining halls and there’s very little they can eat.”