Marcus Rashford and other food poverty campaigners have called out inadequate free school meal parcels.
Several members of the public said the hampers did not contain enough food, and they would rather have vouchers.
The Department for Education has since promised to investigate the parcels, saying they:
should be nutritious and contain a varied range of food.
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. This is 2021 https://t.co/mEZ6rCA1LE
— Marcus Rashford MBE (@MarcusRashford) January 11, 2021
Free school meals timeline
During last year’s term-time lockdown, the government provided families with a £15 voucher every week per pupil to spend on food.
According to the Food Foundation, 1.4 million children reported feeling food insecure over the summer holidays.
After MPs voted against continuing to provide free school meals during the October half-term, Rashford campaigned for a U-turn. He was partially successful, with the government extending free school meal provision.
The government promised free school meals would be available for eligible children during the current lockdown. Meals can be made available through:
- providing food parcels through the school catering team or food provider
- providing vouchers for a local shop or supermarket
- using the Department for Education’s national voucher scheme, which will reopen shortly
Hi all. I’ve been sent LOTS of photos of the food parcels that have replaced the £30 vouchers and asked what I would do with them. I’m replying with advice privately because to do so publicly would look like justifying these ill thought through, offensively meagre scraps /1.
— Jack Monroe (@BootstrapCook) January 11, 2021
There is no dignity or respect here. The best way to loosen the grip of #FoodPoverty is to boost incomes directly through #UniversalCredit and Child Tax Credit. #FreeSchoolMeals https://t.co/oM9Iz6OB4R
— Joseph Rowntree Foundation (@jrf_uk) January 12, 2021
Accusations of profiteering
Some people have complained that food providers are profiting from the food hampers:
#FreeSchoolMeals On the left £30 of food. On the right what private company Chartwells have supplied having been awarded a government contract to supply for £30 free school meals.
Utterly shameful profiteering off some of the country's most disadvantaged kids! pic.twitter.com/XcmUm8qM1h
— MunchBunch (@Munchbunch87) January 11, 2021
Priced via Asda:
Public funds were charged £30. I'd have bought this for £5.22.
The private company who have the #FSM contract made good profit here.
— Roadside Mum 🐯 (@RoadsideMum) January 11, 2021
Children left hungry
Once again, this leaves many food insecure children without access to a healthy diet. This will only contribute further to the disproportionate effects of coronavirus (Covid-19) on disadvantaged children.
Rashford’s campaign includes thousands of supporters around the country offering food and drink to children in need. However, his real aim is to review food poverty at its roots, with all under-16s receiving free school meals if their parents receive benefits.
Featured image via YouTube/BBC News
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