Next month the School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) will unveil a national “Meatless Monday” campaign, which it says resulted from a partnership “with a major national public health program.” The initiative will encourage Americans to abstain from all meat at least one day per week, ostensibly to promote “healthy dietary alternatives.”

JHU’s supposed powerhouse of a partner is identified in a press release as “The Meatless Monday Campaign, Inc.” This is an outfit that just about nobody has heard of — yet. But from what we’ve been able to learn, calling it a “major national public health program” is typical of the kind of falsehoods that usually accompany anti-consumer food crusades.

The Meatless Monday campaign already has its own website, which Internet domain registries show was set up by Sidney Lerner, an officer of the “Molly Lou Foundation.” Just who is Molly Lou? We’re not sure, but her foundation was set up by Helaine Lerner (nee Heilbrunn), a New York socialite who already has her hands in plenty of animal-rights, anti-meat, and “sustainable” agriculture propaganda.

In 2000, Helaine Lerner’s other foundation (the Helaine Heilbrunn Lerner Fund) gave JHU’s School of Public Health over $546,000. This money went to JHU’s “Center for a Livable Future,” an environmental program that targets industrial livestock agriculture and tries to convince restaurants and grocery chains to abandon their modern, efficient meat suppliers.

In 2001, the Molly Lou Foundation and the Lerner Fund (now renamed “The Tamarind Foundation”) jointly gave $900,000 to another Johns Hopkins program — this one tied to the $100-million Humane Society of the United States — for an animal-rights program targeting lifesaving medical research protocols that use animals.

The Lerner Fund/Tamarind Foundation also gave more than $1.4 million in 2000 to the Global Resource Action Center for the Environment (GRACE), an activist group that publishes not-in-my-backyard pamphlets on how to “confront” livestock farmers. And federal tax records show that Lerner wrote personal checks to GRACE totaling $2.6 million between 1997 and 2000.

GRACE, like JHU’s Center for a Livable Future, owes more than 80 percent of its total operating budget to Helaine Lerner’s checkbook. Now it appears that the upcoming Meatless Monday program is just another Lerner pet project. Consumers beware: it would appear that the Johns Hopkins name and its presumed respectability is for sale, and Helaine Lerner is the highest bidder.