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Last Updated: Friday, 30 July, 2004, 12:56 GMT 13:56 UK
Schools' halal provision debated
Jacqueline Maria Haque
Jacqueline Maria Haque wants her daughter to have more choice
The issue of making sure Muslim children can choose halal food at school has been put under the spotlight by politicians in Cardiff.

Halal is the description of food and drink allowed for Muslims under Islamic dietary laws.

On Thursday, Cardiff council debated a Plaid Cymru motion demanding schools offer a fuller range of lunches.

The motion was not carried, but an amended version was passed, calling for a report on the issue to be compiled.

Cardiff council argues it offers one of the broadest services in Wales.

The local council says it already gives its schools the option of a range of halal food.

It is then up to individual headteachers and governors to say how much they want, depending on how much pupils ask for.

This can vary between a total ban on pork in some schools to the option of halal burgers in others.

Mother Jacqueline Maria Haque said it was very important for Muslim children to have halal foods, as they can go hungry if they are not given a halal choice.

What we need to do is make sure Halal food is available for Muslim children right across Wales
Leanne Wood, Plaid Cymru AM

"They do give halal foods in school, but not every day - they give vegetables, which not all children like," she said.

"They would like western foods - like burgers, sausages and nuggets."

Plaid Cymru - which is increasingly targeting ethnic minority voters - had wanted all schools to offer a full range.

The Liberal Democrat group, which runs the council, says it has some sympathy with the call.

The amended motion that was passed stated the council "reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring appropriate school lunches were provided for all pupils in line with their dietary needs, cultural backgrounds or religious beliefs with regard to the cost implications."

Other authorities, such as Swansea and Newport, operate similar schemes to Cardiff, where schools request certain amounts of halal food.

Wrexham council says it has had no request for any halal food to be served but is able to offer it if needed.

The laws of halal food are defined in the Koran and in the sayings of the prophet Muhammad.

Leanne Wood
Leanne Wood said local authorities should be encouraged to provide halal food

Halal meat is prepared by slaughtering the animal with a cut to the throat to allow the blood to drain from the animal.

Islam religion believes this is the most painless method of slaughter, saying that the sudden loss of blood from the head means the animals feel virtually nothing.

Plaid Cymru AM Leanne Wood said that raising the issue about school meals in Cardiff was just the start.

"What we need to do is make sure Halal food is available for Muslim children right across Wales," she said.

"We should be able to work with local authorities to provide the food that people need as a basic right."

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