France’s far-right National Front party stunned many when it won 11 mayorships in the country’s municipal elections last week, and party leader Marine Le Pen says one of the party’s first actions will be to eliminate non-pork options in schools in the towns it now controls. The non-pork options had previously been made available for Jewish and Muslim students who did not eat pork, but Le Pen says her party will put a stop to that practice.
"We will accept no religious requirements in the school lunch menus," Le Pen said in a radio interview on Friday. When the schools in those towns serve pork, that will be it. The substitute proteins will be eliminated, she said.
"There is no reason for religion to enter into the public sphere," Le Pen said.
According to The Local, pork in school lunches being used as a “political football” is nothing new in France, though Le Pen’s statement is likely to reignite the controversy.
In March of last year, one school did stop offering alternative lunches for students who did not eat pork on days when that meat was served, which the mayor said was because of the wasted food. The parents of affected students were highly displeased by the change. Some offered to cook their own meals for their children on those days, but the offer was refused.
Kosher and halal meat has been a pet issue of Marine Le Pen’s in the past. According to The Local, in 2012 the then-Presidential candidate sparked a food-labeling furor in France after she claimed that all meat from slaughterhouses in Paris was secretly being produced according to halal tradition and insisted that non-Muslim consumers were being misled.