In mid-August 2016 a months-old rumor began recirculating, one claiming that schools in Kent, Washington, had entirely removed pork from their menus to avoid offending Muslims. An undated call to action issued by the political action committee (PAC) ACT for America proclaimed that:
The Kent, Washington school district has changed their food options and removed all pork products, in order to accommodate Muslim dietary needs according to a frustrated parent. Dave Brabo, a resident of Renton, Washington recently expressed his concerns with the new policy to school officials.
Specifically Mr. Brabo spoke with the school’s Director of Nutritional Services, Tom Ogg, who informed him that “he was well aware of the issues (and the slippery slope) with the changes to menu options due to Muslim religious beliefs, but he said lots of Muslims had complained and threatened the school by reporting them to the U.S. Department of Education.”
Mr. Brabo was told that if the school system doesn’t “accommodate the Muslim dietary needs that their federal and state funding would be cut or pulled.”
He was told that the school system may be doing this in order to better accommodate incoming refugees.
ACT for America (described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an extremist group) urged readers to “burn up” the district’s phone lines based on a second-hand report of one parent about the “new policy”:
This is unacceptable. If there is enough backlash to this ridiculous new policy, the school system will listen. But you must speak up!
We strongly urge you to call the Kent, Washington School District and voice your strong opposition to their new food policy. Express to them that the food choices for all students should not be dictated by one particular religion or group.
Howver, information plainly available on the district’s web site indicated that the use of both pork and red meat in school menu items had been decreased (but not eliminated) years earlier in favor of poultry for a variety of reasons (including, but not limited to, cultural ones), and that this change was “not new or isolated to Kent schools”:
Several years ago, changes were made to Kent School District (KSD) breakfast and lunch menus to reduce the pork and red meat options and increase the variety of poultry options for students. These changes were made in accordance with state and federal guidelines and have been designed to provide the most healthy and nutritional options available, offer attractive options that students would enjoy thus reducing waste, and addressing a variety of medical, cultural, and regional needs, tastes, and sensitivities. Because of limited menu options at smaller schools, pork products are not served at the elementary level and are labeled at the secondary level. This practice is not new or isolated to Kent schools.
The 2016-2017 school year isn’t slated to begin until 1 September 2016, but the most recent available menus (from the end of the previous school year) show near-daily appearances of pork products on two Kent schools’ [PDF, PDF] menus:
It isn’t clear why someone seized upon the old rumor about the Kent school district’s supposedly banning pork and resurrected it in August 2016, but menus issued by the district between March and August 2016 document that pork has not been completely eliminated from school cafeterias.