Last week, we reported on an unusual situation facing one school district in Georgia. They’ve hired a debt collection agency to get parents to pay off their kids’ lunch debts. Unfortunately, I used up all my best jokes in that piece, but it’s enough to say that the kids in the Brantley County School District must eat a heck of a lot of food because somehow the district is short $20,000. Now one group is claiming they will help pick up that large tab.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals recently sent an open letter to the school district’s superintendent, offering a deal. If the schools agreed to establish a Meat-Free Monday menu, PETA would provide free lunch to every student in the district for the first day.

"Students would get a healthy and delicious meal, and schools and parents would get some help to ease financial problems—free of charge and free of animal suffering,” Tracy Reiman, the Executive VP of PETA, said in a press release. “Our proposal is a win-win solution for Brantley County schools, students and parents.”

Yes, it’s a win-win, but not so much for the school as for PETA. “Lunch for one day is not going to help offset that debt,” Drew Sauls, the superintendent, told the The Florida Times-Union. We asked PETA to clarify their offer and see if there was something we were missing. Their spokesperson responded with some questionable logic.

“PETA is offering to provide a free vegan entree to every student in the Brantley County school district, which consists of seven schools and approximately 3,500 students. [A] typical school lunch in the county costs $1.50, so our offer could save the parents collectively thousands of dollars,” the spokesperson said in an e-mail. “This would help the county avoid further increases to their current lunch deficit.”

Yet, while it’s true that the school district would get some free food, they will then be required to purchase many more vegetarian meals for students in order to continue the meatless Monday program, rather than rely on their existing supply of lunches. That cost would arguably negate whatever the school saves financially from this one-time only giveaway.

For now though, it seems unlikely that the school will accept this offer. "I know I like to eat meat, but I can't speak for the board," Sauls told the Times-Union. "I don't think there is anything wrong with what we're doing now. We offer our kids choices. I can't see our board going along with only offering the kids one thing.”

I’m all for animal rights and healthy eating, but it just seems like PETA is trying to take advantage of desperate schools for publicity. So, PETA, if you’re reading this, good effort but you still get an ‘F.’

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