School's 'Meat-free Mondays' plan suffers backlash from parents and local farmers

A Shropshire primary school has faced a backlash after trying to implement an environmentally-conscious Meat-free Mondays initiative.

Broseley CE Primary School is keen on ‘Meat-Free Mondays’. Pic: Google.
Broseley CE Primary School is keen on ‘Meat-Free Mondays’. Pic: Google.

Broseley CE Primary School announced to parents on Thursday that it would only offer meat-free dinners on Mondays, citing the impact of the farming industry on the environment.

However, some parents and members of the local community have reacted against the idea and said the school was portraying farmers in a bad light.

The school's announcement said: "Sustainability is a key theme of our curriculum. Therefore, we are launching: Meat-free Monday!

"People’s food choices have a huge impact on the planet and our health. Livestock farmed for food are the world’s largest users of land resources.

"Not only do the animals need land to live on, but almost 80 per cent of the world’s agricultural land is used to grow food for animals.

"A growing demand for beef by a growing population is the number one cause of deforestation. In the UK, we eat 25 per cent - 50 per cent more meat than is recommended by the World Health Organisation.

"Sustainability is so important to us and your children. We would like to introduce Meat-free Mondays as one way to reduce the amount of meat we consume for health and environmental reasons.

"Mrs Fletcher is really excited to be offering meat-free dinners every Monday starting on Monday 9th January. Please speak to your child about why this is important and what a difference it will make."

Parents' reactions

Parents have been divided about the initiative, with some believing it to be a "good idea" while others were "astounded" it had been planned.

One parent said: "I’m actually astounded at this, especially from a farming family in little old Broseley.

"What is this teaching my children… their grandad is not being sustainable being a farmer? You are actually saying the farmers are doing something wrong."

Another said: "As a farming family, we live and breathe the process of farm to fork", while one person added: "A terrible thing to happen in a country school where many of your pupils will be the children of farmers who produce the highest welfare, tastiest meat which is highly nutritious."

However, another said: "I think this is a fantastic idea. Meat isn't coming off the menu altogether, just one day a week. Which will make a difference environmentally and open up a conversation about eating sustainably, farming, different ways of living, encourage them to try new foods, and so much more."

One woman, talking about her children's opinions of the plan, said: "I'm not trying to upset anyone here with this comment but has anyone asked the children if they are upset by this?

"Because my kids have actually said it's a great idea. I agree about the fact that actually a lot of the issue is in fact not from UK farmers but mass agricultural farming in other countries, but this doesn't affect the boys eating meat in my house, it's all about educating our children about sustainability and asking them if they have issue with other types of food.

"Had the school named this mac n cheese day, no one would have a problem with it having no meat, yet [people] feel upset about a missing sausage which probably doesn't have an awful lot of nutritional value anyway."

The school's response

After the backlash, the school has said it would review its menu and will now invite farmers into the school to educate children about the farming industry.

Headtecher Sam Aiston said: "Following on from the post regarding having a meat free day, we have had discussions with our staff and several members of our community and reflected upon the information gathered.

"We would like our children to have a well-rounded understanding of sustainable food sources, local produce and subsequently make informed choices.

"We will be inviting people from the farming industry to speak to the children to support their education around this topic. We know the importance of farming to our local community and I apologise for any offence caused.

"We will be addressing our menu and looking at how we can offer healthy options that extend the variety of food children eat."

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