The Muslim population in the United States is projected to become the nation’s second largest religious group by 2040, according to Pew Research Center. A needs assessment of Muslims living in Illinois published by the Illinois Muslim Civic Coalition (IMCC), Institute for Social Policy (ISPU), and the Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement (IPCE) reports that 94% of the Illinois Muslim consumers surveyed find it ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ important that their purchase decisions be halal. However, 39% of respondents with school-age children, and 32% of students who are enrolled in college, reported a lack of access to halal options at school. A lack of access to halal options leads to food insecurity and impacts student wellness, learning, and opportunity.
As a trusted, third-party halal certifying body for 40 years, IFANCA (Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America) is dedicated to addressing food and health security in the Muslim community and beyond.
IFANCA is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1982 and based in Des Plaines, Illinois. IFANCA’s mission is to promote food and health equity on a national and international scale, including through facilitating the availability of certified halal products for Muslim consumers. Halal refers to what is permissible to Muslims and is most often used to refer to food products that are permissible according to Islamic law.
IFANCA also works to increase awareness of halal through education initiatives and partnerships with both national and global thought leaders and institutions. Through these partnerships, IFANCA is committed to addressing food and nutrition insecurity and ensuring that all people have access to foods that meet their dietary requirements.
In 2016, IFANCA provided Texas A&M University with a US$5 million endowment to establish the Food Diversity Innovation Program (FDIP). This sustainable, high-impact educational and research program teaches students about religious, culturally important, and other certified foods – as well as different dietary needs, restrictions, and allergens. The goal of the program is to educate graduate and undergraduate students through direct interactions with the food industry, hands-on research, and product development experiences. This is the only program of its kind in the country.
Some of IFANCA’s ongoing partnerships include:
- Collaborating with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to increase access to halal foods and help drive legislation change around halal certification guidelines in the state of Illinois;
- Addressing food insecurity through a partnership with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs (CCGA);
- Establishing national halal guidelines for K-12 nutrition services and college/university dining halls in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Muslim Youth of North America (MYNA);
- Supporting the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) in conducting a research study on food insecurity amongst Muslim college students in the U.S.
IFANCA is dedicated to ending hunger and addressing nutrition inequities for everyone. The IFANCA team is excited to join the Alliance to End Hunger to continue engaging in advocacy, community outreach, and national and global initiatives. IFANCA looks forward to bringing halal into the conversation and continuing this work with new and existing partners.