Queen’s Hospitality Services gears up for Ramadan

Muslim dons advocating for students fasting while in residence 

Dining halls will be open later during the Islamic month of fasting.
Ramadan, the Islamic month of prayer and fasting, begins in early April this year and will last until early May.
 
Zainab Naqvi and Meena Waseem, HealthSci ’23 and Comm ’23, have been working with Queen’s Hospitality Services and ResLife since February to ensure Muslim students have adequate access to dining services throughout the month.
 
“From the very beginning, there was this town hall for food in residence,” Naqvi said in an interview with The Journal.
 
Naqvi said ResLife reached out to her and Meena to express their interest in supporting Muslim residents observing Ramadan. Queen’s has been collaborating with the two students ever since. Leonard Hall, Jean Royce Hall, and the Late Night Barista will serve as options for the evening meal of iftar and will be open until 9 p.m., 8:30 p.m., and 12 a.m. respectively during Ramadan. Retail locations will also be open until 1 a.m.
 
These accommodations will be available until Apr. 29, at which point the university’s dining operations will cease.
 
For suhoor, the pre-dawn meal, Hospitality Services plans to use a “pick and pack” model where students can pick up a meal in the evening and bring it back to their residence in Eco Containers to eat before sunrise. This strategy ensures Muslim students will have access to a wide selection of food while minimizing food wastage—something Naqvi expressed was an issue last year.
 
“Ramadan is more than just about fasting. It’s about feeling like you’re in a community where you belong […] It’s just so hard to do that as a first-year student away from your family,” Naqvi said.
 
Naqvi also plans to organize designated places in Leonard and Jean Royce Hall for Muslim students to eat together.
 
Queen’s Hospitality Services began addressing Ramadan in January. They’ve consulted with Muslim dons, students, ResLife staff, and the Queen’s University Muslim Students Association (QUMSA).
 
“QUMSA students have collaborated in putting together a list of menu items and other food items that they’d like to see included. We’re making every effort to include those items in the ‘pick and pack’ offerings,” Theresa Couto, Queen’s Hospitality Wellness and Sustainability Manager, said in an interview with The Journal.
 
Hospitality Services has also emailed students to determine the number of residents who will be observing Ramadan and account for any allergies or dietary restrictions.
 
Couto has found the process of planning for Ramadan in residence to be “quite rewarding.”
 
“This is just another way that we’re working towards a more sustainable food system and honoring and respecting individuals food and dietary needs.”
 
Sarah Husain, HealthSci ’25, was first made aware of ResLife’s Ramadan accommodations through a newsletter.
 
Although Husain hopes to find support in QUMSA and the Muslim students working in residence, she feels anxious about celebrating the holiday away from home during exam season.
 
“I think the biggest concern is, if people are in their dorm room just studying all day and someone starts feeling ill, how are people going to reach out or check up on them?” Husain said in an interview with The Journal. 
 
“The actual duration of Ramadan is completely on campus, and that’s scary. Usually, every year that I’ve fasted, I’ve done it with my family and I’d have their support.”
 
Jirjees Al-Shammaa, HealthSci ’25, expressed similar concerns. He hopes residence staff and student organizations like QUMSA can help foster the same kind of environment students would typically be surrounded by when celebrating Ramadan at home.
 
“For me, there is a very big community [at Ramadan]. It’s a time where everyone is more at home together, where you go to the mosque or you start meeting people more frequently,” he said in an interview with The Journal. 
 
“I do have people here and they’re amazing, they’re wonderful. It’s just it’s not the same. It’s like asking someone, would you be okay with celebrating Christmas while in residence? Would it be the same thing?”
 
Both Husain and Al-Shammaa look forward to adapting to the circumstances.
 
“[Ramadan] is going to be what we make of it. We need to participate and be engaged with each other, encourage each other, in order to have a community,” Al-Shammaa said.
 
“Try to reach out to each other, try to support each other, and try to spend time with each other because community has to come from somewhere.”

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