MP to investigate 'inadequate' free school meals parcel
- Credit: @RoadsideMum
Children's minister and Essex MP Vicky Ford has promised to investigate after images shared online showed "woefully inadequate" free school meal parcels sent to families.
Vicky Ford, MP for Chelmsford, said she would urgently look into the matter after a mother posted an image of a £30 parcel which was estimated to contain just over £5 worth of food.
Sharing the image, the Twitter user 'Roadside Mum' said: "2 days jacket potato with beans, 8 single cheese sandwiches, 2 days carrots, 3 days apples, 2 days soreen, 3 days frubes.
"Spare pasta & tomato. Will need mayo for pasta salad.
"Issued instead of £30 vouchers. I could do more with £30 to be honest."
The mother estimated the cost of the food in the package at £5.22 based on prices at Asda.
Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford, who has campaigned to get free meals to children who need them, tweeted that it was "just not good enough".
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The Department for Education wrote on Twitter: "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."
Chartwells, the company which she said provided the parcel, responded to say it would investigate.
It said: "Thank you for bringing this to our attention, this does not reflect the specification of one of our hampers."
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer described the situation as "a disgrace".
He 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."
After announcing her plans to investigate, Ms Ford also defended the use of parcels instead of vouchers for families in need.
She tweeted: "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."