In pictures: The shoddy food parcels sent to families under 'free meals' scheme

·4-min read
Mum Christa Lee, 39, from Bournemouth was shocked at the food package her 17-year-old picked up last week - which included a third of an onion. (SWNS)
Christa Lee, 39, from Bournemouth shared a picture of the food package her 17-year-old received - which included a third of an onion. (SWNS)

Angry parents have shared pictures of the paltry food packages they received from the government after its promise to feed pupils on free school meals during lockdown.

Images posted online showed packages intended to feed children for up to a week, which were packed with just a few items.

Schools have been told to continue providing the meals throughout lockdown for those who are learning at home and have currently been urged to use their usual caterers to offer food parcels.

But some of the parcels given to low-income pupils appeared to contain very little food, with photos of the stingy packages being shared thousands of times on social media.

Christa Lee, 39, from Bournemouth, Dorset, was shocked at the food package her 17-year-old picked up last week – which included a third of an onion.

One mum was told how she was forced to throw away the meagre package she got because it contained open fresh food products that weren't refrigerated. (SWNS)
One mum was told how she was forced to throw away the meagre package she got because it contained open fresh food products that weren't refrigerated. (SWNS)
Parents on Twitter are sharing the paltry amount of food provided by the government as part of the appalling '£30' free school meals pack given to feed kids for two weeks -- worth a paltry £5.22 See SWNS story SWOCfood.
Many of the meals were put together by private catering companies. (SWNS)

Tiny portions of cheese and soup powder were packaged in bank coin bags, and she also received half a pepper, a tiny slice of carrot and half a tomato.

There was also flavoured water, an apple, a biscuit, 100g of pasta and a potato.

They used to get £15 a week vouchers, she said.

Student Christa said: “This tells our children that they do not matter. That all they are worth is food in unsafe packaging that will leave them hungry.

"Children as young as 11 years old are being given this and expected to be able to prepare it.

Read more: What you can and can't do under current lockdown rules

"Many of them will be preparing it alone due to parents having to work. Those on low incomes rarely have the luxury of a job that can be done from home.”

Another mother, Twitter user @RoadsideMum, was appalled at the contents of her own food hamper, she said came from Chartwells catering company.

Sharing a photo on Twitter, she questioned how she was meant to feed her child for two weeks.

The contents of a parcel posted by @RoadsideMum on Twitter bag intended to last 10 days which was issued instead of £30 worth of food vouchers. (SWNS)
The contents of a parcel posted by @RoadsideMum on Twitter bag intended to last 10 days which was issued instead of £30 worth of food vouchers. (SWNS)
The food package Simon Young received for his 11-year-old daughter Lola's lunches to last her a week. (SWNS)
The food package Simon Young received for his 11-year-old daughter Lola's lunches to last her a week. (SWNS)

She said the food bag, which contained a loaf of bread, a tin of beans, a handful of cheese slices, two potatoes, three yoghurts, some pasta and some vegetables, would have cost £5.22 from Asda.

The catering company responsible for the food package, Chartwells, responded to her tweet saying: “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.”

Sabina Weeks, 33, was shocked when her 12-year-old son’s package only had enough ingredients for two meals.

Weeks, from Lambeth, south London, said she found it “saddening” that the government believed her meagre food hamper would feed her hungry son for a week.

Parents on Twitter are sharing the paltry amount of food provided by the government as part of the appalling '£30' free school meals pack given to feed kids for two weeks -- worth a paltry £5.22 See SWNS story SWOCfood.
This package contained a half a loaf of bread, one potato and a selection of biscuits. (SWNS)
Parents on Twitter are sharing the paltry amount of food provided by the government as part of the appalling '£30' free school meals pack given to feed kids for two weeks -- worth a paltry £5.22 See SWNS story SWOCfood.
A parcel containing a handful of vegetables and some tins. (SWNS)

She said the hamper, which contained one portion of pasta, one portion of noodles, a handful of fruit and vegetables and an egg, would have cost just £4.

She said: “It’s so disheartening for struggling parents to already be in this position where we have to ask for help, it’s not what any parent wants.

“So to then do this to children is a bit of a kick in the teeth, and it makes you feel worse as a parent.”

One 38-year-old mother from south London was given a loaf of bread, a pack of sliced cheese, some baked beans, and a mix of fruit and vegetables to feed her nine-year-old son for a week.

She also got some yoghurts and dried pasta in the pack she picked up from her son's school.

Previously she was given £15 a week shopping vouchers.

In the wake of the furore over the parcels, the prime minister’s official spokesman said: "We are aware of the images and clear that the contents of these food parcels are completely unacceptable.

"Food parcels should contain food that parents can use to make healthy lunches throughout the week," he added.

Downing Street said the children's minister is investigating "urgently".

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