“I could do more with £30.” Mum criticizes Free School Meals replacement

Food parcels provided to Free School Meals recipients in lieu of vouchers receive widespread condemnation.

12/01/21

“I could do more with £30.” Mum criticizes Free School Meals replacement

An angry mother has tweeted a photo of various food products, totalling £5.22, she says was sent to her instead of £30 worth of vouchers.

The image has been shared more than 24,000 times, including by Premier League Footballer and Free School Meals campaigner Marcus Rashford, who called the package “unacceptable”.

The photo shows a loaf of bread, a bag of pasta, one can of baked beans, some cheese, three apples, two carrots, one tomato, two baked potatoes, two bananas, two malt loaf snacks and three snack size tubes of fromage frais.

The mother, using the Twitter handle ‘Roadside Mum’, costed the products in the parcel at current Asda prices and found the total to be just £5.22. She said the parcel had been provided by Chartwells, a private company contracted by the Department for Education.

Chartwells got in touch with the parent on Twitter to say it was investigating, saying: “Thank you for bringing this to our attention, this does not reflect the specification of one of our hampers.”

"Please can you DM us the details of the school that your child attends and we will investigate immediately."

Since the original tweet, other parents have come forward with images of parcels they received, including one with a parcel containing a "pathetic carrot stub".

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer tweeted: “The images appearing online of woefully inadequate free school meal parcels are a disgrace.

“Where is the money going? This needs sorting immediately so families don't go hungry through lockdown.”

A spokesperson for Chartwells told Sky News: "We take our responsibility to provide children with access to nutritious food very seriously. We have worked hard to produce food hampers at incredibly short notice during these challenging times. Our hampers follow the DFE specifications and contain a variety of ingredients to support families in providing meals throughout the week. In the majority of instances, we have received positive feedback.”

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