September 6, 2016 -This week Khan’s Tutorial senior leaders and students rallied at the steps of City Hall for a bill requiring more inclusive food options for students in the NYC public school system. The press conference was lead by SAFEST (South Asian Fund for Education, Scholarship, & Training) founder, Mazeda Uddin. Supporters of the bill argue that public school students who are observant Muslims or Jews are often times faced with decision of violating their religious dietary restrictions or going hungry for the entire school day. Additionally, low income students who rely on free lunches are forced to leave school to purchase halal or kosher food. Public Advocate Letitia James expressed her support for the inclusive bill and invited KT students Tahseen Chowdhury, Syed Islam, and Sudat Khan to share their experiences as observant Muslim public school students.
KT student and Stuyvesant Student Union Vice President Tahseen Chowdhury spoke about the limited options served at school. “It’s definitely very hard to find something you can eat,” Chowdhury said. “It’s either you pick up peanut butter and jelly or you don’t eat that day.”
KT student and NEST+M junior Syed Islam spoke about the financial burden currently affecting low-income students. “When children do not have money in their wallets, they tend to not eat anything,” he said.
KT SHSAT High Scorer and Stuyvesant bound student Sudat Khan spoke about the health and cost benefits of halal foods.
Additionally, KT Chairperson Mrs. Nayeema Khan spoke about her experiences during her years as a faculty member at public schools. “I would see students throwing away all of their lunches except for the milk carton because that is the only item they can eat. This should not be the case.” said Khan.
Assemblyman David Weprin, and Comptroller Scott Stringer among other city officials were all in strong support of the bill citing the importance of tolerance and acceptance in such a diverse city.
“The cost is limited compared to having a healthy meal, allowing students to eat and to be able to perform,” Assemblyman David Weprin said. “This is a very diverse city, a very diverse school system and I think the time is now. Let’s move forward.”
With 10 locations in the outer boroughs of New York City, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and in the Jackson Heights, Jamaica, Astoria, Ozone Park, and Floral Park neighborhoods of Queens, Khan’s Tutorial primarily serves in assisting families in low-income, new immigrant neighborhoods. Over 2,215 students have gained admission to New York City’s Specialized High Schools through Khan’s Tutorial since its inception in 1994.