Angry parents share free school meal snaps – and what £20 of shopping should look like
A mum in Boston, Lincolnshire, said she was sent this amount to feed her three kids for two weeks
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Furious parents are sharing snaps of Free School Meals boxes sent to families in lockdown – blasting the supplies as woefully inadequate.
The food parcels supplied to children being schooled at home during the coronavirus lockdown have sparked outrage.
It comes after a mum claims she was sent just a few pounds-worth of food to feed her children for 10 days.
Child poverty campaigner and footballer Marcus Rashford and celebrated budget cooking author Jack Monroe are leading the demand for answers from the Government and its private suppliers.
What do you think of your family's Free School Meals box? Email [email protected]
A disgusted mum posted this snap of her kid's Free School Meals supplies on Twitter
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Parents of kids who would normally qualify for the free meals were given the option of food parcels or vouchers as schools closed once again for remote learning.
Fuming parents shared snaps of slices of cheese, beans, potatoes, bread and yoghurt meant to cover their kids' school-day lunches for two weeks.
While others, including 'Bootstrap Cook' author Monroe, shared snaps of what they could buy with the cash estimated to have been budgeted by the government per child for the 10 days-worth of meals.
Monroe shared a snap of her own £20 shop on Twitter, showing a broad spread of fresh fruit and veggies, Asda chicken, tinned fish, cheese, and tins of beans, rice and yoghurt.
The Government faces questions today as families and poverty campaigners overnight criticised the contents of the boxes, alleged to have been distributed by several private contractors.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer this morning 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."
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One mum's initial tweet last night set off the storm.
Going by the Twitter handle @RoadsideMum, the unnamed parent shared a photo of a delivery which she estimated cost £5.22, rather than the £30 in vouchers she would have been entitled to.
According to her photo posted on Twitter, she was given two jacket potatoes, a can of beans, cheese slices, a loaf of bread, two carrots, three apples, two Soreen Malt Lunchbox Loaves, three sachets of Frube yoghurt, pasta and a single tomato.
The mum wrote: "Issued instead of £30 vouchers. I could do more with £30 to be honest."
She added: "The private company who have the #FSM contract made good profit here."
A struggling mum sent the Mirror a photo of the box sent to her to feed her three children in Boston, Lincolnshire.
She claimed the 'scabby' fruit and vegetables rotted before they could be eaten, and said she was grateful for three free food – but it was not nearly enough to feed her kids for two weeks.
One Twitter user posted a picture of a dry ham sandwich, a banana, a biscuit and carrots, saying it was all their family got for two primary school-age pupils.
Another mum wrote: "This is what we have been given to feed my son for the entire week. This is not helping families at all."
Another Twitter user posted side-by-side photos of Roadmum's Free School Meals box, compared to a haul of £30 worth of groceries.
MunchBunch wrote: "Utterly shameful profiteering off some of the country's most disadvantaged kids!"
Compass Group catering subsidiary Chartwells, which is among the companies contracted to supply Free School Meals, said it is investigating after being alerted to the pictures posted online.
The private company is among several supplying Free School Meals, and in a statement to the Mirror, it said many images being shared on social media are not pictures of hampers it supplies.
However, Chartwell said it had contacted the parent who tweeted the original picture to investigate and confirm what school it was.
A spokesperson said: “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 DofE 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.
Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford is demanding answers on the FSM boxes
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)
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“In this instance, the image on Twitter falls short of our hamper specification and we are keen to investigate with the relevant school so we can address any operational issues that may have arisen.”
The Compass group is owned by business mogul Paul Walsh.
Mr Walsh has links to the Tory party, including as a member of former Prime Minister David Cameron's business advisory group.
The Department of Health and Department for Education (DfE) earlier said they were investigating after being shown the images of the food supplies.
In a statement on Twitter, the DfE said: "We are looking into this. 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."
What's meant to be in a Free School Meals hamper?
Chartwells said its hampers were put together last week based on the cost of a free school meal allowance of £2.34 per pupil (£11.70 a week).
This week's hampers would reflect the Department for Education (DfE) increasing the cost by £3.50 a week per pupil as of last Friday, the caterer told the Mirror.
It claims depending on availability, the two weeks of food for Free School Meals recipients per pupil usually includes:
Two units of 200g cheese, six apples, four oranges, four bananas, two cucumbers, four carrots, eight baked potatoes, one lettuce, two tomatoes, four cans of baked beans, 1kg pasta, four tins of chopped tomatoes, two tins of tuna, four tins of peas, one loaf of bread, three malt loaf snacks, and six yoghurts.