Asylum seekers are being given ‘unidentifiable mush’ to eat and a number of other ‘disgraceful’ meals by a Government-contracted company, according to local volunteers.
Ministers have housed some asylum seekers in hotels during the pandemic, employing private company Serco to provide them with meals.
But food given to those living in Scarisbrick Hotel in Southport, Merseyside has allegedly resulted in cases of ‘malnutrition and a lot of vitamin deficiencies’.
An unnamed volunteer told The Liverpool Echo people have been expected to eat ‘sandwiches with no use-by date’ and ‘barely any fruit or vegetables’ after going ‘to hell and back and escaping horrors we can’t even imagine’.
A community centre in Hammersmith, West London Welcome, voiced similar concerns this week when volunteers posted photographs of unappealing meals.
They include ‘congealed pasta’ and a ‘cold patty’ that people are ‘unable to heat up given that they have no access to any cooking facilities’.
Other volunteers have claimed meals going to asylum seekers in Southport are ‘so much worse’ than the food pictured on West London Welcome’s Twitter feed.
Serco has insisted the meals it provides are ‘healthy and balanced’, while the Home Office said the ‘taxpayer provides free nutritious meals’.
The company has only received one formal complaint about the food through Migrant Help last July.
Serco Contract Director for Asylum Accommodation, Jenni Halliday, said she is ‘confident that the residents in our care at the hotel are being provided with three healthy, balanced meals per day’.
The meals Serco sends meet the NHS’s nutritional requirements and are often reviewed with the hotel, she added.
The Home Office said: ‘As a result of the pandemic, we have had to temporarily house some asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute in hotels to fulfil our statutory obligations.
‘We provide asylum seekers with safe and Covid-compliant accommodation along with free nutritious meals, all paid for by the taxpayer.
‘We are fixing our asylum system to make it firm and fair, and are bringing forward legislation to stop abuse of the system while ensuring it is compassionate towards those who need our help, welcoming people through safe and legal routes.’
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