PATERSON, NJ – Efforts by the Paterson Public Schools to make sure students aren’t left hungry because of religious dietary restrictions have expanded to 10 district schools, Superintendent Eileen Shafer announced Thursday.
The expansion follows the successful pilot program that brought a self-operated Halal food program to the John F. Kennedy Education Complex and Public School No. 5 last February. The program is first to the first of its kind in New Jersey.
“We are all very pleased by the success of the pilot Halal food program, and to see Halal food being made available at more schools throughout the district,” Shafer said. “As we have said before, a student cannot learn on an empty stomach. If we truly celebrate our diversity in the Paterson community as one of our strengths, then we cannot let a student’s religion be a reason to go hungry through the school day.”
Earlier this month, the Halal food program was launched at:
· Public School No. 2
· Public School No. 7
· Public School No. 8
· Public School No. 9
· Public School No. 19
· Public School No. 27
· Public School No. 28
· Don Bosco Technical Academy
· International High School
· Dr. Hani Awadallah School
The program is expected to expand to all district schools according to a five-phase plan, with the majority of the schools serving Halal food by Thanksgiving.
Mayor Andre Sayegh said that the launch of the Halal food program showed that Paterson is a “a city of progress and a leader in cultural competency,” while Board of Education Commissioner Nakima Redmon stressed at the time that many students were left hungry because of the lack of options and that “it is very important for them to have access to good food that also considers their culture.”
Know a story we should share with readers? Email editor Steve Lenox and tell him about it.