The American Meat Institute (AMI) is urging Baltimore Public Schools to discontinue plans to hold “Meatless Mondays.”

Meatless Mondays is an effort sponsored by the Grace Spira Project at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The project is named after Henry Spira, an animal activist and founder of Animal Rights International.

Baltimore’s school system is the first in the nation to adopt the initiative, which means that 80,000 Baltimore school children would have no meat option on Mondays. Three out of four students in the Baltimore Public Schools system are eligible for free and reduced-cost meals. School meals may be the only significant source of meat and poultry in their diets.

“Surely you have always offered a vegetarian option on your menu,” AMI President and CEO J. Patrick Boyle wrote in a letter to Andres Alonso, chief executive officer, Baltimore City Schools. “Now you are removing a meat or poultry entrée on Mondays and depriving children and their parents of the ability to determine what is appropriate for their diets and their own personal circumstances.”

Boyle says the Grace Spira Project’s series of videos at www.MeatTrix.com seek to manipulate and mislead children through a cleverly produced but factually inaccurate cartoon takeoff of the film “The Matrix.” The group’s ultimate goal is elimination of America’s efficient and advanced food production system.

“I am confident that you are concerned not just about the education of your students, but also about their health and nutrition status and urge you to reconsider this decision and allow children every day that they attend school to access the most nutrient-dense food available: meat and poultry products,” Boyle says.