Last Monday, the Baltimore City Public Schools system became the first in the United States to pledge to offer no meat options for school lunch menus on Mondays.  It sets a bad precedent and hopefully officials there will come to grips with their faulty thinking and rescind their mandate.

The move denies 80,000 students of a meat option on Mondays. For some students, school meals likely are the only significant source of meat and poultry in their diets.

The Baltimore school officials have taken it upon themselves to relieve dietitians and nutritionists of part of their duties, at least for the first day of the school week. On Mondays it seems, the school officials know better than dietitians what is and is not fit for the students.

Instead of school officials imposing their opinions on when a student should or should not consume meat, it would be preferable to offer a vegetarian menu item alongside the offered meat items and leave the decision to the student. Leave diet recommendations and menu development in the hands of the professionals hired for the job.

Perhaps the Baltimore school officials will next see fit to extend their meatless Monday doctrine to keep students from having a couple slices of bacon with their breakfast before leaving home for school Monday morning or from enjoying a hamburger Monday evening at home with their families. After all, it is Meatless Monday.

The question becomes, what will the school officials’ next pronouncement be? What will become the next issue on which their opinion and judgment supersedes that of the professionals who were hired for a particular job?

The danger of the Baltimore City Public Schools system’s Meatless Mondays is in infringement of a student’s freedom of choice on that day. What is to stop the school system from determining that tomatoes, for example, are unfit for consumption on Tuesday’s and, since they have already set a precedent, declare Tomatoless Tuesdays? What about Fishless Fridays?

Absurd, perhaps. But no more so than their rights-infringing and opinion-driven bad policy they call Meatless Monday.