Professor Gina Keatley’s “Eat and Tell” component of the International Cuisine class allowed students to describe different foods each week. Muslim students used the opportunity to act as cultural ambassadors, explaining how halal food, or food permissible or lawful in traditional Islamic law, is related to their culture.
It was at the class where the idea for the Hungry4Halal app stemmed.
“The app fills a need for the user, as well as its creators,” said Keatley. “Users have an easily accessible way to learn about and enjoy Halal food, and the creators have an opportunity they might not otherwise have had to educate others about aspects of their culture.”
The app launched in August. It was developed by a five-student team through Queens College’s Simmer program.
The team included three young Muslim women of Bangladeshi heritage, majoring in food sciences; a young Latino Navy veteran majoring in food sciences; and a young Muslim man of Bangladeshi heritage, who is a computer science major and served as project manager and tech incubator liaison.
The Hungry4Halal app provides users with eat-in or dine-out options and a video library. The eat-in option features recipes, including some contributed by the developers, and a search function that allows users to locate recipes by ingredient or title.
The dine-out option uses a mapping function to locate the user and pinpoint the nearest eateries offering Halal selections.
The video library is a compilation of cooking how-to demonstrations by the Hungry4Halal team, including bloopers, and from across the web highlighting a wide variety of cultural cuisines featuring Halal food.
“When I think about the best experiences I've had working on teams, what comes to mind is the feeling of satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment,” said Afroja Mustofa, a member of the team who is studying to become a dietitian. “I was very motivated to work on the app because I gained valuable tech and business experience. It's also something I did for my community.
“By working on the app, I was able to share my knowledge of and experience with Halal food,” Mustofa added. “I think our community will see long-term benefits in sharing aspects of our culture with the world.”
The Simmer program is a new tech and food collaboration between the Queens College Tech Incubator and the school’s Food, Nutrition, and Exercise Sciences Department that unites students from multidisciplinary fields to create food- and health-related technologies.
Students in the Simmer program gain a deeper understanding of programming language and familiarize themselves with the features of code development and the integrated development environment. They also gather and create all application, as well as handle marketing and the app launch, providing them with a complete entrepreneurial experience.
"The Hungry4Halal project brought together students who study nutrition and those who study computer science. With Professor Keatley’s encouragement and guidance, the team worked hard to make the app a reality, while they gained skills in business development, design, entrepreneurship, and marketing," said Ying Zhou, executive director, Queens College Tech Incubator. “It was a great experience for all those involved.”
The app is available on both iOS and Android platforms.
“What an extraordinary demonstration of learning through diversity, something that we are well acquainted with at Queens College,” said Queens College President Félix V. Matos Rodríguez. “A vital component of a diverse learning environment is a faculty skilled in bringing students together in ways that demonstrate there is more that unites than divides us.”