Free school meals: Rashford meets with food parcel provider after outcry

This shop cost just over £26 with the aim of feeding two primary school aged children lunches for a week to 10 days

This shop cost just over £26 with the aim of feeding two primary school aged children lunches for a week to 10 days

"Our school was disgusted by our caterers!"

The children's minister is investigating "urgently".

Marcus Rashford, the Manchester United footballer and child food poverty campaigner, has heavily criticised the quality and quantity of the parcels, which have been provided by a government contractor called Chartwells, a food service company.

Other images shared by families showed half a tomato or two eggs.

One of the photos, tweeted by @RoadsideMum, shows a parcel that is reportedly meant to include 10 days' worth of food.

Chartwells, which on its Twitter page claims to be "nourishing young bodies and minds with exceptional food and learning", wrote in response to @RoadsideMum's original post: "Thank you for bringing this to our attention, this does not reflect the specification of one of our hampers".

The firm said it had been required to provide thousands of food parcels "at extremely short notice" - but acknowledged it was insufficient and apologised.

It says: 'We strongly encourage schools to work with their school catering team or food provider to provide food parcels to eligible free school meal pupils who are at home'.

"Clearly, due to the pandemic, many people have unfortunately lost their jobs and are finding it very hard to manage at the moment".

"1 child or 3, this what they are receiving?"

One parent, using the social media handle Mizz, said she was provided with five potatoes, a carrot, a cucumber and a pepper as the only vegetables for her two children for a week.

Ms Ford has said anyone with evidence of problems should provide details to the Department of Education for investigation.

"The schools make the decision", she said.

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The mother who posted the photo to him said that she was unsure whether it had been provided by Chartwells, but added that the school was so "disgusted" by the meagre provisions that it had switched to vouchers.

The Department of Health wrote on Twitter: "We have clear guidelines and standards for food parcels, which we expect to be followed".

The initial images drew widespread criticism.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer described the situation as "a disgrace".

If families are entitled to £30 worth of food, why is there delivery only equating to just over £5?! Parcels should be nutritious and contain a varied range of food'. "The examples shared are an insult to the dignity of people who rely on this support".

Speaking to Channel 4 on Tuesday night, Tory MP for Mid Derbyshire Pauline Latham has defended the government's policy on free school meals, saying "it's only their lunch".

"We MUST do better", he added.

"Something is going wrong and we need to fix it, quickly!"

"As we have seen from these images online of inadequate food parcels, this can go wrong, and we need the availability of a universal system", he said.

Rashford tweeted that it's clear "there was very little communication with the suppliers that a national lockdown was coming".

Households with children that would usually qualify for food at school have been given the option of parcels to prepare at home but there has been a huge amount of backlash.

"Schools have been left having to piece together provision by arranging for food parcels and local vouchers".

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