Queens College Students Launch App to Connect Users With Halal Cuisine Through Recipes, Restaurant Mapping and Video Content

— The Hungry4Halal App, a Collaborative Effort of the College’s Tech Incubator and Its Food and Nutrition Program, Began as an Exercise in Cultural Ambassadorship —

Queens, NY, September 7, 2018—One thing became immediately clear to Professor Gina Keatley during sessions of the “Eat and Tell” component of her International Cuisine class at Queens College: few students were familiar with Halal food—food that is permissible or lawful in traditional Islamic law. Keatley, who asks her students to describe a meal to the class each week for “Eat and Tell,” also noticed that when Muslim students spoke about Halal dishes to their classmates, the presentations sparked wider conversations about culture and religion, providing the Muslim students—all of whom were female—with an opportunity to act as cultural ambassadors.

“This is how the Hungry4Halal idea was born,” says Keatley of the free app, which launched August 19 on both iOS and Android platforms. Developed by a team of five students through the college’s Simmer program, “the app fills a need for the user, as well as its creators,” adds 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 Hungery4Halal app provides users with eat-in or dine-out options and a video library. The eat-in option features recipes—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.

The student team that developed the app includes 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.

“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. 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. I think our community will see long-term benefits in sharing aspects of our culture with the world,” says Afroja Mustofa, a Muslim woman on the team who is studying to become a dietitian. Read more about the students and Keatley on the Simmer homepage, under Who we are.

“What an extraordinary demonstration of learning through diversity, something that we are well acquainted with at Queens College,” says 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.”

Simmer is a new tech and food collaboration between the Queens College Tech Incubator (QCTI) and the school’s Food, Nutrition, and Exercise Sciences Department (FNES) 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 (IDE). 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. It was a great experience for all those involved,” says Ying Zhou, executive director, Queens College Tech Incubator.

With state-of-the-art labs, wireless access, and the largest number of undergraduates majoring in Computer Science in the New York area, Queens College is committed to technology. Recruitment measures and programs supportive of students from underrepresented populations—including those who are the first in their families to earn a college degree—encourage the diversity of our student body. Reflecting the borough in which we are located, Queens College has students from more than 150 nations.

The Department of Family, Nutrition, and Exercise Sciences offers a course of rigorous academic study that prepares students for careers in such fields as food management, fashion and textiles, family and consumer sciences teacher education, nutrition and dietetics, nutrition and exercise sciences, and physical education. It also seeks to prepare individuals to work in culturally, racially, ethnically, socioeconomically, educationally, and professionally diverse environments.

About the Queens College Tech Incubator
The Tech Incubator at Queens College highlights the college’s efforts to expand its technology footprint as it continues to be an agent for economic development and prosperity in the borough. The college has cultivated new relationships with a host of business/technology organizations and individuals, who will be invited to serve as “ambassadors” for the incubator. In addition, it has expanded existing partnerships with key organizations, including the Queens Chamber of Commerce and the Queens Economic Development Corporation. The Tech Incubator will also be a resource for the college’s students, who will have opportunities to serve as interns and/or create their own ventures in this facility.

About Queens College
Queens College enjoys a national reputation for its liberal arts and sciences and pre-professional programs. With its graduate and undergraduate degrees, honors programs, and research and internship opportunities, Queens College helps its over 19,000 students realize their potential in countless ways, under the guidance of an accessible, award-winning faculty. The college was recently ranked tenth among U.S. public colleges by the Chronicle of Higher Education for upward social and economic mobility. The Center for World University Rankings placed Queens College in the top 3.5% of schools worldwide, based on the quality of its education and faculty, the number of its alumni who find employment, and other factors. Located on a beautiful, 80-acre campus in Flushing, the college is cited each year by the Princeton Review as one of the nation’s 100 “Best Value” colleges, and is routinely ranked a U.S. News & World Report Best College and Forbes Magazine Best Value College, thanks to its outstanding academics, generous financial aid packages, and relatively low costs. Visit qc.cuny.edu to learn more.

A leader in preparing future educators, Queens College graduates the most teachers, counselors, and principals in the New York metropolitan area. It also contributes to New York City’s talent pool as a powerful economic engine and a leader in tech education, with more undergraduate computer science majors than any city college. Students from across the country and around the world come to Queens College’s Aaron Copland School of Music. Its renowned faculty and alumni include nationally recognized composers, conductors, and performers who have received nearly 40 Grammy Awards and nominations over the past forty years.

For more about Queens college, visit http://www.qc.cuny.edu/Pages/home.aspx

Maria Matteo
Office of Communications
Assistant Director, News Services