International student delivers halal food products to Malaysian community

International student delivers halal food products to Malaysian community

Most students spend their Saturdays gearing up in Spartan apparel for an afternoon football game or savoring a day of sleeping in. 

Zafri Abd Halim is not one of those students.

Halim, an international student from Malaysia and a mathematics senior at Michigan State, has delivered halal food products to students around campus every third Saturday of the month for the past two years. 

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Halal means “permissible or allowed” in Arabic, and for any animal or poultry to be considered halal, it must be slaughtered in a ritual way by a Muslim. The halal delivery business, Exaira Grocery, started around five years ago among the Michigan State Malaysian community. In 2017, Halim started helping his friend Muaz Norman with deliveries. 

Norman has since graduated and Halim is now working the delivery business solo. Halim said they saw the need when many Malaysian students living off campus didn’t have vehicles to get to stores in Lansing.


“We decided to do this delivery to actually help them in a way — they don’t have to go buy it for themselves anymore and we will deliver it straight to their houses,” Halim said.


8:00 a.m. – Renting a car

Halim’s day starts early, when he wakes up around 7 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 5 in East Lansing. He orders an Uber — which usually arrives late — that takes him to the Capital Region International Airport where he rents a car to make the commute to Detroit. 

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10 a.m. – Picking up orders in Detroit

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Halim fulfills orders at Saad Wholesale Meats in Detroit, then Restaurant Depot in Dearborn, depending on the number of orders, he might just make one stop. Halim makes the hour-long commute to Detroit because the prices of halal meat products are cheaper than those in Lansing. Chicken legs are a popular order that customers often use to make chicken rendang, a Malaysian dish made with coconut milk and spices, to get a taste of home.

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12 p.m. – Sam's Club

Around noon, Halim usually stops by Sam’s Club for additional halal products.

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3:45 p.m. – Packaging products

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The process of weighing, packaging and labeling each customer’s order is a laborious process and usually takes more than an hour and a half. 

“Sometimes I’ll take a nap in between,” Halim said. 

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6:30 p.m. – Delivering orders

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Halim said he avoids game days if possible — delivery once took three hours because of game day traffic. Halim rarely turns a profit off of his business, and said for him, it’s not all about the money. While most of his customers are Malaysian, the delivery business is open to non-Malaysian students and anyone searching for halal products can order them.