One student’s research paper prompted Sodexo to offer pre-sunrise Ramadan meals at the Lair. Ramadan is one of the most sacred months of the year in Islamic culture where a strict fasting is observed from sunrise to sunset.
For the first time in University history, the Lair will open its doors from 4:30 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. during the week of May 6-10 to accommodate Muslim students observing Ramadan. The Lair will be offering breakfast items that include Halal meat assortments, Halal bread, eggs, fruit, oatmeal, as well as post sunset dining opinions that include Halal chicken.
Sodexo made the decision after it was brought to their attention by a non-Muslim student who was looking into the issue for a term paper in an Islam in America course, taught by theology professor, Amir Hussain.
The student, mathematics major Taylor Flanagan, decided to focus his paper on Muslim students practicing Ramadan at American universities. Through his research, Flanagan learnt that that most colleges in America are not equipped to support students who are fasting. Most of the students Flanagan spoke to said they would appreciate recognition of the holiday from their university.
This feedback prompted Flanagan to contact Dana Massimiani, director of operations at Sodexo, who noted that the University did not have plans to accommodate students observing Ramadan. After a conversation between Flanagan and Massimiani, which took place mid-March of this year, Flanagan praised Massimiani’s willingness to find a way to help support fasting students.
Flanagan connected Massimiani to the Muslim Student Association’s president, Kienan Taweil, who further discussed ways in which LMU Dining could support Muslim students who choose to fast.
“We believe that regardless of size, every person, group and community have needs we must meet or exceed,” said Massimiani. “Sometimes finding them is the hardest part and we are grateful to Taylor Flanagan for his selfless dedication to bringing Ramadan and the needs of the Muslim community into our clear focus and continuing to help us contour options to serve them.”
This year’s Ramadan celebrations, May 5 to June 4, begins during finals week at LMU. This is the first time since 2010 that it has coincided with the academic school year. Students fasting for Ramadan will be an issue for the next several years, according to Hussain, as Ramadan begins 11 days earlier each year. Next year, it will fall during the spring class schedule, with more students being impacted by it.
“Fasting is an important part of many Muslims’ practice of faith and living on a college campus without access to a kitchen or 24-hour food options can make this challenging,” said Flanagan. “Just because the Muslim population at LMU is small does not mean that LMU Dining should ignore their needs. I am grateful to Sodexo for attempting to support all of its students, regardless of religious identity and background.”