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Children’s Minister Vicky Ford said she would be “urgently” look into the matter after one mother posted an image of a £30 parcel which was estimated to contain just over £5 worth of food.
Sharing the image, Twitter user Roadside Mum said: “2 days jacket potato with beans, 8 single cheese sandwiches, 2 days carrots, 3 days apples, 2 days soreen, 3 days frubes.
#FreeSchoolMeals bag for 10 days:
2 days jacket potato with beans
8 single cheese sandwiches
2 days carrots
3 days apples
2 days soreen
3 days frubes
Spare pasta & tomato. Will need mayo for pasta salad.
Issued instead of £30 vouchers. I could do more with £30 to be honest. pic.twitter.com/87LGUTHXEu
— Roadside Mum 🐯 (@RoadsideMum) January 11, 2021
“Spare pasta & tomato. Will need mayo for pasta salad.
“Issued instead of £30 vouchers. I could do more with £30 to be honest.”
Footballer and campaigner Marcus Rashford tweeted another picture and wrote: “3 days of food for 1 family… Just not good enough.
“Then imagine we expect the children to engage in learning from home.
“Not to mention the parents who, at times, have to teach them who probably haven’t eaten at all so their children can… We MUST do better.”
3 days of food for 1 family…
Just not good enough. pic.twitter.com/Y7FJEFFAma
— Marcus Rashford MBE (@MarcusRashford) January 11, 2021
The Department of Health wrote on Twitter: “We have clear guidelines and standards for food parcels, which we expect to be followed.
“Parcels should be nutritious and contain a varied range of food.”
She estimated the cost of the food in the package at £5.22 based on prices at Asda.
Chartwells, the company which she said provided the parcel, responded to say they would investigate.
They said: “Thank you for bringing this to our attention, this does not reflect the specification of one of our hampers.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer described the situation as “a disgrace”.
He tweeted: “The images appearing online of woefully inadequate free school meal parcels are a disgrace.
I will be looking into this urgently – food parcels should cover all lunchtime meals & be nutritious – we’ve increased funding for parcels & will support local vouchers – national voucher also rolling out ASAP, working night & day on this. Hope your kids are ok @roadsidemum https://t.co/vL5XTSNgT7
— Vicky Ford MP (@vickyford) January 11, 2021
“Where is the money going?
“This needs sorting immediately so families don’t go hungry through lockdown.”
After announcing her plans to investigate, Ms Ford also defended the use of parcels instead of vouchers for families in need.
She tweeted: “One of the reasons why some schools have used food parcels rather than vouchers is that it helps keep them in touch with families.
“Very sadly during the pandemic there has been an increase in risk to some children. Do calll @NSPCC If you are concerned about a child.”
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