UNIVERSITY NEWS | What began as a class assignment has blossomed into a transformative experience. This year, Muslim students can more readily meet their religious commitments because Sodexo has adjusted some hours and menus as the result of one student’s work in a faith and reason core course. The change was necessitated because the observance of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar during which Muslims fast from dawn to dusk, begins during finals week at Loyola Marymount University. This will be the first time any portion of Ramadan coincides with the LMU scholastic year since 2010.
During the week of May 6-10, the Lair will be open from 4:30 to 5:30 a.m. so that Muslim students may get a wholesome pre-dawn meal. The standard fruit, yogurt, oatmeal and cereal bars will be open, and Sodexo has found some grab-and-go halal items to offer. They have also been working with Midamar, a pioneer and global supplier of halal food, to procure halal eggs and non-pork breakfast proteins to serve as a hot option. The Lair will close at 5:30 a.m. and reopen at its regular time.
For the post-fast meal, or iftar, after sunset, a review of campus operations found that there were enough dining locations available. But to provide halal-certified animal proteins, LMU’s Sodexo unit, in partnership with Midamar, is in the process of deciding which selections and at which stations there will be substitute halal products.
Because it is tied to the lunar calendar, in coming years Ramadan starts approximately 11 days earlier each year. Sodexo plans to make the appropriate evaluations and adaptations in keeping with its commitment to serve all of LMU’s students.
Taylor Flanagan ’21, a resident adviser at East Quad and a mathematics major, was working on an assignment for his “Islam in America” class, taught by Professor Amir Hussain. His project was to research how students celebrate Ramadan on their campuses. Flanagan’s interviews with students at LMU and other college campuses led him to seek out Dana Massimiani, director of operations-universities for Sodexo. The campus food service had not considered these options, but after Flanagan raised the issues and connected Massimiani with Muslim Student Life, arrangements were made.
“Diversity and inclusion are inherent parts of our culture that drives Sodexo’s global mission,” said Massimiani. “We want all of our employees and customers to benefit from our quality of life mission. Here at LMU, we believe that every person, group and community have needs we must meet or exceed. 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.”