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Gwinnett County schools looking to add new Halal menu item

The district already serves a Halal burger option for its Muslim students.

ATLANTA — A new menu item might be in Gwinnett County Schools' future. The Gwinnett County School Nutrition Department is looking to Halal-certified hot dogs to its lunch menu in the new school year.

Halal is an Arabic word that means permissible and is often used when referring to food in accordance with Islamic law. This would not be the first time a Halal menu item has been considered. Since October 2021, Halal burgers have been offered to several of the schools in the county for students who identify as Muslim.

The initiative began with a pilot test when Gwinnett launched the new burger in five schools. It later expanded throughout the district. 

Superintendent Calvin Watts said the Halal burger had a successful rollout and the district serves more than 11,000 Halal-certified burgers monthly.

Watts said the district's decision to offer Halal burgers started with a meeting between members of the Muslim community and former GCPS Superintendent Alvin Wilbanks and himself.

Karen Hallford, Director of the School Nutrition Program for Gwinnett County Public Schools said they are now looking into the Halal hotdog option. 

"It's still in the evaluation process," she said. "We have looked at a Halal hotdog from a different vendor to see if that might be a fit for our menu as well. So we've seen samples."

Hallford said that food inclusivity is what the school strives for. 

"We want to make sure that all of our students can navigate our serving lines, whether they have special dietary needs, or allergies, or whatever the case may be, we want them to be able to eat breakfast and lunch with us. So we do that by offering a variety," she said. 

Muslim students who do not have Halal meal options can opt for vegetarian meals. The district said at least one Halal offering, whether a vegetarian item or the Halal Burger, is available every day in GCPS Cafés.

In the meantime, families can find daily, weekly, and monthly menus online here

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