For the first time ever, students now have access to halal food options on campus, served at the General Brock store.
Patrick Foster, a clerk at General Brock and fifth-year student at Brock University, spent his summer making the project possible, after having seen the need on campus for halal food.
“I heard a lot of my Muslim friends talking about the lack of Halal food” said Foster. “At first I didn’t do anything, but then I saw that it was something I could do and it just seemed that there were more and more reasons to do it as the process went on.”
Halal refers to what is permissible for Muslims in accordance with Islamic law. Though it is frequently used in reference to food and drinks, it covers all aspects of life. In terms of food, halal refers to the criteria of allowed food, and how that food is to be prepared.
Foster’s initial idea was to have halal wraps, but since they do not last very long, he looked into getting shawarma plates instead. He talked with Shawarma Hut, but finally decided to go into business with Jad Nasser from Shawarma House on King Street in St. Catharines. The company delivers beef and chicken shawarma plates, as well as falafel plates, made in accordance with halal requirements. The plates are brought in heatable containers and placed in a heater converted from an old pretzel machine.
“One of my fears was buying an expensive heater. Fortunately, we hardly put any money into it and now it looks like we’ll make a fair bit of profit,” said Foster.
The only cost for the project was buying new racks for the converted heater which cost a total of $240.
General Brock, since it is owned and operated by the Brock University Students’ Union (BUSU), is exempt from the university’s contract with Sodexo and therefore has the power to bring in halal food from a supplier.
“Brock has becoming really diverse and there is going to be a need for more diverse options,” said Foster.
“[Foster] did an amazing job,” said Heather Hill, Retail Manager of General Brock. “Whenever my staff has ideas, we try it. This is a student-owned business and when students bring ideas and are willing to put in the work, I fully support them.”
The shawarma and falafel plates are brought in starting around 11:30 a.m. and later in the afternoon as well. So far, the response has been really good and the plates are selling quickly.
“The reception is astounding. It’s one of our most successful food options,” said Hill.
“People have been so appreciative of it,” said Foster. “The thanks that I’ve been getting is overwhelming. Now that [the project] is done, I see how much of a need there really was.”
Foster’s next project is trying to get more vegan options on campus.
“I would definitely love to expand [the project]. It’ll depend on the support we get and we’ll have to look at the numbers, but the next thing I’m seeing is a lack of vegan food. I don’t think campus is doing enough for the vegan community,” said Foster.
“My reward for it was the thanks that I’ve been getting this past week. It’s been totally worth it. I think it shows that students do have legitimate ideas and legitimate concerns. It showed me that you can have an effect on the community,” concluded Foster.
Brock General is located between Academic South and Welch Hall, and is open Monday to Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.