Sir Keir Starmer and Marcus Rashford have blasted ‘unacceptable’ food parcels that are supposed to feed families for three days amid claims the £30 voucher replacements cost just £5.22.
The Labour leader and Manchester United footballer – who has been behind a drive to get free meals to children who need them – were responding to an outraged mother who slammed a 10-day ‘hamper’.
Sir Keir said the images were ‘a disgrace’ and ‘woefully inadequate’ on Twitter this morning.
While England star Rashford, 23, shared multiple pictures of sparse packages and said it was ‘just not good enough’.
Today the government said it was ‘urgently’ looking into claims free school meals parcels only contain a few pounds worth of food.
Pupils either get a £30 voucher or the physical food, depending on which school they go to.
The company behind the lunch in question is Chartwells, which is the education catering specialist of £24.8billion-earning Compass Group UK & Ireland.
The Manchester United and England footballer (pictured with his mother Melanie at a food bank last year) was responding to an outraged mother who slammed a 10-day hamper she estimated cost £5.22
Rashford shared a post by one mother – @RoadsideMum – who posted a picture of a hamper containing bread, cheese, two carrots and a tin of baked beans
Rashford shared a post by one mother – @RoadsideMum – who posted a picture of a hamper containing bread, cheese, two carrots and a tin of baked beans.
She wrote: ‘Issued instead of £30 vouchers. I could do more with £30 to be honest. The private company who have the #FSM contract made good profit here.’
Rashford commented: ‘Where is this being rolled out? If families are entitled to £30 worth of food, why is there delivery only equating to just over £5?! 1 child or 3, this what they are receiving? Unacceptable.’
Next to another picture of a small food parcel, he said: ‘3 days of food for 1 family… just not good enough.’
The 23-year-old continued: ‘Then imagine we expect the children to engage in learning from home.
‘Not to mention the parents who, at times, have to teach them who probably haven’t eaten at all so their children can… We MUST do better. This is 2021.’
Sir Keir wrote: ‘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 for Education said it will investigate the claims free school meals do not contain enough food.
It posted on Twitter: ‘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.’
Children’s minister Vicky Ford said: ‘I will be looking into this urgently – food parcels should cover all lunchtime meals & be nutritious – we’ve increased funding for parcels & will support local vouchers – national voucher also rolling out ASAP, working night & day on this. Hope your kids are ok @roadsidemum.’
She added: One of the reasons why some schools have used food parcels rather than vouchers is that it helps keep them in touch with families.
‘Very sadly during the pandemic there has been an increase in risk to some children. Do call @NSPCC if you are concerned about a child.’
The estimated cost of the food box parcel
Parents have claimed the meals were dished out to children studying from home by a private contractor.
Government guidance for the free school meals scheme says institutions can apply for an extra £3.50 per student on top of whatever they receive.
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.’
It adds: ‘Where school kitchens are open this should be the approach taken by schools.’
Chartwells said this morning: ‘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.
‘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.’