The animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, otherwise known as PETA, is making the Cleveland school district a unique offer: they’d like to buy ad space on school lunch trays.
PETA Executive Director Tracy Reiman sent Cleveland school district CEO Eric Gordon a letter this week proposing to help fill the district’s $13 million budget gap by opening up lunch trays to advertisements.
“I’m writing with an idea to help move your city’s school budget a little bit more toward the black,” Reiman says in her letter. “Open up cafeteria lunch trays (both disposable and reusable) to paid ads promoting nutritious foods and healthy behavior for kids, and allow us to run the first one, featuring an adorable chicken proclaiming, ‘I Am Not a Nugget—Go Vegan.’”
Alicia Woempner, a project manager at PETA, says the group is “always on the lookout for schools or cities or municipalities that can benefit from our support while we also help animals at the same time.”
Woempner says PETA hasn’t gotten an official response from the district yet, but it did get word that the letter was forwarded on to Regis Balaban, the district’s director of food and child nutrition services.
“We just haven’t had the time to thoroughly review it,” says district spokesperson Roseann Canfora. “We haven’t allowed advertisements on school lunch trays in the past, but it raises some interesting questions about whether that’s a legitimate revenue source.”
PETA sent a similar letter to Tuscon schools a few weeks ago, but hasn’t gotten a response from that district either.
This isn’t the first time PETA has offered to buy advertising space. This past spring, when Trenton, N.J. was facing a budget deficit that threatened to leave city offices without toilet paper, city officials struck a deal with PETA. The animal rights group provided the city with a six-month supply of toilet paper — stamped with anti-meat, pro-vegan messages.
You can read the entire letter sent to Eric Gordon below.
Dear Mr. Gordon,
On behalf of PETA and our more than 3 million members and supporters, including many thousands across Ohio, I’m writing with an idea to help move your city’s school budget a little bit more toward the black: Open up cafeteria lunch trays (both disposable and reusable) to paid ads promoting nutritious foods and healthy behavior for kids, and allow us to run the first one, featuring an adorable chicken proclaiming, “I Am Not a Nugget—Go Vegan.” To complement the ad (see below), we urge you to increase vegan choices in your schools’ cafeterias, as many others have done across the country.
As a parent of an elementary school student, I know how important it is for all children to have access to healthy plant-based meals at school. Feeding kids chicken and other meat and dairy products puts them at risk for a slew of health problems. For example, a study by Consumer Reports found that two-thirds of chicken in grocery stores was contaminated with either salmonella or campylobacter—or both—and 64 percent of meat tested by the Food and Drug Administration was contaminated with E. coli. Meat, dairy products, and eggs, which contain no fiber and are loaded with cholesterol and saturated animal fat, are also primary contributors to Ohio’s growing childhood-obesity rates. Vegans, on the other hand, tend to be significantly healthier than their meat-eating counterparts. On average, they weigh 18 percent less, and according to one of the most respected child health experts, the late Dr. Benjamin Spock, “Children who grow up getting their nutrition from plant foods rather than meats have tremendous health advantage. They are less likely to develop weight problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, and some forms of cancer.” Healthy vegan staples such as beans, rice, and veggie tacos also tend to be less expensive than meat and dairy products.
In addition to improving their own health, every vegan saves the lives of more than 100 animals per year. In today’s industrialized meat and dairy industries, chickens and turkeys have their throats cut while they’re still conscious, piglets are castrated without being given any painkillers, fish are suffocated or cut open while they’re still alive on the decks of fishing boats, and calves are torn away from their mothers within hours of birth. Providing students with vegan meals would encourage them to make healthy, kind choices in other aspects of their lives.
If you like our offer, we’ll also supply a delicious free vegan lunch, consisting of protein-packed and cholesterol-free faux-chicken nuggets, chili sprinkled with vegan cheese, and corn on the cob to the students and faculty at one of the schools in your district. I look forward to hearing from you.
Executive Vice President