New York City Lawmakers Look to Ban Processed Meats From Public School Lunches

Cold cut sandwiches with processed meats might not always be on school lunch menus.

One agency has classified such items as Group 1 carcinogens.

Local lawmakers want the New York City school system to cut the baloney when it comes to school lunches. Processed lunch meat may soon be banned from menus in an attempt to litigate healthier choices for children at public schools.

The City Council is considering Resolution 238, a proposal some are calling “Ban the Baloney” (despite the fact that no baloney is currently served in local schools). The motion was inspired by Brooklyn Borough president Eric Adams, who has already successfully implemented school lunch initiatives such as “Meatless Mondays” in certain Brooklyn public schools, touting the healthfulness of plant-based options over typical meat-heavy lunch choices like hot dogs and sloppy Joes.

“We cannot continue feeding our children substances that are scientifically proven to increase their chances of cancer later in life,” Adams told a meeting of the City Council on March 22. “Hot dogs and ham sandwiches are in the same class of substances as cigarettes. We know that we would never give our children cigarettes to smoke, so there’s absolutely no reason why we should continue poisoning our children’s health with processed meats.”

It’s true that processed meats are far from a health food. The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies processed meats as a Group 1 carcinogen, meaning “there is convincing evidence that the agent causes cancer.” However, the WHO notes on their website that being classified in the same group as tobacco smoking and asbestos “does NOT mean that they are all equally dangerous.”

“The IARC classifications describe the strength of the scientific evidence about an agent being a cause of cancer, rather than assessing the level of risk,” the WHO says.

Adams’s resolution reports that around 950,000 meals are served to students by the city’s Department of Education every day. Many of the items served contain processed meats, baloney not included.

“Neither bacon or baloney is served in schools,” Olivia Lapeyrolerie, deputy press secretary for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, told The Daily Meal. “This Administration is committed to providing all our students with free healthy and nutritious meals.”

Lapeyrolerie confirmed that de Blasio’s office is weighing the proposal.

Processed meats have long been considered a health risk for adults and children alike, according to some studies. These foods, on the other hand, may not be as cancerous as some people think.