Many Muslim youth in the United States grow up eating only halal food, and for the majority in public school, that means being limited to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and the few vegetarian options from school lunches. In New York, 38% of public-school students are Jewish and Muslim, and measures have been taken to accommodate students with Halal and Kosher dietary restrictions. The Islamic Leadership Council of New York led the First Halal Lunch Pilot Program in New York City, collaborating with the Department of Education, local Muslim businesses, and local community leaders in the process.
Hossam Gamea represented ILC-NY throughout this process and helped successfully execute this one of a kind project. Gamea grew up in the Bronx and knew the importance of inclusion and accommodation for Muslim students – and led this initiative as an active effort to ensure that Muslims were given reasonable accommodation at school, while also investing in local Muslim-owned businesses. Hossam Gamea is a respected advocate in his community, and has written for Tab, Traversing Tradition, and Medium. He has been featured in numerous podcasts for his insight on Islamophobia at a structural level, where he spoke on bullying he experienced as a student post-9/11. Leading the Halal Lunch Program in NYC is a step to work against that and promote equity and inclusion in New York’s public schools.