A Tuscon, Arizona, mother is speaking out after her daughter's elementary school reportedly served the child pork, which goes against the family's Muslim beliefs.
The mother, who identified herself as Nancy, said she was upset when she learned Holaway Elementary School served her daughter pork during lunch. She said she provided the school with a doctor's note explaining that their family is Muslim and does not eat pork.
The school was initially accommodating, but that changed when her daughter was served a bacon cheeseburger in December 2016.
"The lunch lady was like, 'No, too bad. Just pick it off,'" Nancy told KOLD. "Picking it off doesn’t work because it’s in the hamburger."
The mother went to the school for answers, but wasn't happy with the explanation she received: "The principal had said because she didn’t wear the traditional clothes and because she’s just a white girl that was going there she didn’t fit that normal stereotype of being Muslim -- so it wasn’t obvious for them to follow the guidelines for her."
The mother decided to let it go, but several months later her daughter came home with a cereal bar that contained gelatin -- a byproduct of pork -- that the school gave to her. When asked why she didn't pack her daughter a lunch, Nancy said she didn't want the child to feel left out.
"We told [the school] we could send that, but at that same time she doesn’t want to have to be that different child," she said.
The Amphitheater Unified School District later issued a statement to KOLD:
Even though the district is not required to accommodate special dietary needs based solely on religious purposes, our district nutritionist and food services staff plan menus that are compliant and meet the various nutritional guidelines, as well as include food options that are the best fit for the food preferences of the school. We encourage families with children with any special dietary needs to make sure they are educating their children about what to look for so they know what is acceptable and what they should avoid. Our menus are always posted online and you can request the ingredient list for any food item you are unsure about. In situations where there are special food requirements or restrictions, we encourage you to meet with our district nutritionist to discuss the best options for your family. The best way to ensure a meal meets any special dietary needs is to send a meal from home that you have prepared. Every child is different and we do our best to ensure a healthy, accommodating environment for all of our students.
Mad World News posted the story on its Facebook page on Aug. 16, prompting readers to question the mother's outrage and criticize her for getting as upset as she did.
"Well maybe things have changed but I thought the school usually had a menu posted so children could bring their lunch if they didn't like a meal?" one reader commented. "Besides sorry but since your child is being raised muslin, shouldn't she know better than to eat pork?"
Another added: "We don't eat pork and we are not muslims--but if my kids were in public school (ours went to private school but took their own lunches) I would check the menu and if there were to be a pork product served I would explain to my children and would send their own lunch!! I wouldn't threaten the school or blame the cafeteria workers."