This spring semester, Dining Services has introduced several new changes to the Marketplace and the Spencer Grill.

The Marketplace—or, D-Hall, as it is more commonly called—added a new halal venue and updated its previous gluten-free venue. The Spencer Grill introduced products from the 2nd Street Creamery, an Iowa-based ice cream company.

The halal section was set up for Grinnell’s Muslim students, motivated by efforts from the Muslim Students Association (MSA), the Center for Religion, Spirituality and Social Justice (CRSSJ) and the Office of the President.

“My MSA group members and I began to make an effort to make changes in the dining hall as early as last year, when we first noticed the surprising number of food items containing pork and alcohol that were not labeled as such. This is problematic for students following both the Muslim and Jewish faith,” said Lana Mahgoub ’14, a member of the MSA.

Halal meat must be prepared according to Islamic dietary guidelines. Grinnell’s halal meat will be supplied by the Midamar Corporation and prepared separately in the Marketplace.

“The food…would be prepared in a manner that is acceptable for halal foods. We would rinse our ovens before we prepare that food, to make sure that there isn’t cross-contamination,” said Jeanette Moser, Associate Director of Marketplace Operations.

Other than separate preparation in a clean oven, the halal station will generally follow the same menu as other parts of the Marketplace. Dining Services hopes that students who do not follow halal restrictions will choose other options.

“There is quite an expense to the Halal meat program. So if you bring everybody to that venue for halal cooked meats, that would touch our budget fairly significantly,” Moser said.

This week, the Halal venue has served samosas with ground beef and Moroccan vegetable stew.

For Muslim students, the new changes are a great relief.

“I’m very thankful that Grinnell has decided to accommodate us with the halal station. Now when I go to the dining hall, I don’t need to wander around anymore—straight to the halal station,” said Uzma Daraman ’15.

The gluten-free station in the Marketplace was also upgraded. The new changes to the gluten-free station include a sneeze guard and an under-counter mounted heating system.

“We had a gluten-free station that didn’t meet the needs of the health code of Iowa,” Moser said. “[Now] it’s high-tech, it’s safe, and it does a better job of keeping food hot than the system we were [previously] using. We’ve also made it so that the food won’t get so dried out, because we had problems with that also.”

The new heating system uses induction-heating technology. A magnetic contact made through the granite keeps the cooking surface cool, yet heats the serving pans.

Last but not least, the Spencer Grill has introduced ice cream into its menu. The ice cream comes from 2nd St. Creamery, a company based in northwest Iowa.

The fun flavors include Truck Stop Fudge, Blackhills Strawberry Rhubarb, Copper Kettle Caramel, Cannoli di Nonni, Almond Butter Hazelnut Fudge, and Mint Chocolate Victory.

Each container costs $5.50.

“[If we sold] Ben and Jerry’s, I’d have to sell it for $7.00. This was definitely a better choice for the same quality,” said Mary Kirk, Assistant Director of Retail and Vending.

The prospects for sales look good. According to Kirk, students are already buying, despite the winter cold.

“They are so wonderful, I just want to eat them all myself,” she said with a laugh.