‘I could do more with £30’: Angry mum criticises free school meals hamper

An angry mother has tweeted a photo of what she says in an inadequate food hamper to replace free school meals for her children.

The image has been shared more than 18,000 times on Twitter – including by footballer Marcus Rashford, who had campaigned to ensure families were supplied with food during lockdown, and said it was “unacceptable”.

It shows a loaf of bread, a bag of pasta, one can of baked beans, some cheese, three apples, two carrots, one tomato, two baked potatoes, two bananas, two malt loaf snacks and three snack size tubes of fromage frais.

The unnamed mother, who uses the Twitter handle “Roadside Mum”, said she was sent just a few pounds worth of food to feed her children for 10 days.

Families eligible for free school meals have the option of food parcels or vouchers while schools are shut due to a third national lockdown in England.

The mother said the parcel had been issued by Chartwells, a private company contracted by the Department for Education, instead of £30 worth of vouchers.

“I could do more with £30 to be honest,” she wrote, adding that she estimated the total value of the goods to be £5.22.

Chartwells responded to the parent directly on Twitter, and said it was investigating the matter.

The company tweeted: “Thank you for bringing this to our attention, this does not reflect the specification of one of our hampers.

“Please can you DM us the details of the school that your child attends and we will investigate immediately.”

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner also retweeted the original post.

She said: “If the government is allowing companies to make money by providing cut price meals for hungry children we will fight for change. No child should be going hungry.”

She urged anyone in a similar situation to get in touch.

Several other parents have since come forward and tweeted images of their parcels, including one who said a parcel contained a “pathetic carrot stub”.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer 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.”

The Department of Health said it was investigating after images posted on social media showed only a small number of food items sent to families in some council areas.

A spokesperson for Chartwells told Sky News: “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 DFE 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.

“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.”

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