By: V4 Agency
The decision to introduce meet-free menus in some two hundred schools to facilitate a more efficient fight against the coronavirus has garnered heated criticism from the opposition. The interior minister says the move is an unacceptable exclusion of certain social groups, while the regulation itself fails to comply with the government decree.
On the proposal of Lyon’s Green leadership, meat has been removed from the school canteens’ menu. City leaders argue that the regulation is intended to facilitate a more efficient fight against the coronavirus.
From Monday, than two hundred schools in the city will only serve meat-free meals, according to information obtained by BFMTV. If the menu is simple and features only one type of food, students will have to wait much less for their meals, which makes it easier to observe sanitary and social distancing measures, deputy mayor Stephanie Leger said, providing a bit of a background.
Explaining the decision, Stephanie Leger said meat-free meals meet the needs of most students, including those who don’t eat pork. Fish and eggs remain on the menu, she emphasized, pointing out that it is not a vegeterian diet. In line with the new regulation, students in over two hundred of the city’s schools will not have meat on their plates from Monday until the Easter break, which triggered an angry backlash from opposition parties.
LREM MP Beatrice de Montille believes that in Lyon, known for its gastronomy, the city’s green leadership is using the health crisis to introduce ideological measures without any consultation.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin also reacted to developments, describing the plans as an “unacceptable insult” to French farmers and butchers. “We can see that the moralising and elitist policy of the Greens excludes the popular classes. Many children often only get to eat meat at school canteens,” he added.
Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie also weighed in on the issue, saying “let’s stop putting ideology on our children’s plates. Let’s just give them what they need, in order to grow and develop. Meat is part of it.” He added that he would discuss the issue with the prefect of the departement.
Lyon Mayor Gregory Doucet responded to the interior minister’s words by saying that the unique menu had been introduced for health considerations. He added that he did not hear any similar comments when Gerard Collomb, Doucet’s right-wing predecessor introduced the same measure during the pandemic last year.
The mayor’s argument about health reasons, however, appears to be unfounded. The daily l’Opinion reports that the City Hall’s decision runs against current legislation. Schools’ diet is determined by the National Nutrition Health Program (PNNS), which strictly regulates how often meat should be served. The government decree clearly states that students must be served at least four meals containing protein in a twenty-day period, which can be beef, veal, lamb or offal, and the same applies to fish, which must also be provided four times in 20 days.