Marcus Rashford calls out ‘not good enough’ free school meal parcels

Marcus Rashford
Jasmine Norden

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.

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

Accusations of profiteering

Some people have complained that food providers are profiting from the food hampers:

One such company is Chartwells, a part of Compass Group. A Bristol headteacher previously criticised the company in March for its “shameful” food parcels.

Until December, Compass Group was chaired by Paul Walsh, former member of David Cameron’s business advisory group.

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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