by Evan Stambaugh
A public school district in southeastern Minnesota has banned pork offerings on all of its menus to accommodate Muslim students.
Faribault Public Schools is no longer offering pork in its school cafeterias after a prior board meeting where concerns about the pork offerings were raised by the local chapter of the Minnesota Parent Union.
Activist Tiffini Flynn Forslund had met Sodexo district manager Lori McMahon at the school board meeting, where they exchanged contact information and agreed to work together on removing pork from the menu.
“We didn’t have to go through red tape. We didn’t have to shut down the meeting. We had complete cohesiveness and there is no pork in the menu for the entire Faribault school district. So this is wonderful when the Muslim culture does not eat pork,” Forslund said in the video.
“They changed recipes. They would love to hire Somali representation,” she continued. “And so this is just a wonderful, welcoming, culture-competent [sic] to move forward, to graduate kids. When everybody’s happy, eating well, working together, that is a win for the community.”
McMahon called their collaborative efforts “like the road to an amazing journey.”
“One of our goals in partnership with the district this year was to make sure that everyone had a seat at the table and felt comfortable at the table,” she said. “We thought we were doing a pretty good job with that, but pretty good isn’t good enough. We have to do the best job we can, and make sure and commit to the fact that there’s no pork on the menu.”
Faribault Public Schools, located in a city of over 24,000 people, serves around 3,500 students at all grade levels.
The city of Faribault is estimated to be between 75 and 80% white, based on previous census data and current demographic trends, but it has a notable Somali Muslim minority.
Somali refugees first came to the area nearly 30 years ago, and there are now approximately 4,000 Somali residents in Faribault.
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Evan Stambaugh is a freelance writer who had previously been a sports blogger. He has a BA in theology and an MA in philosophy.
Photo “Faribault Public Schools” by Faribault Public Schools.