England is strictly confined and schoolchildren must stay at home. In addition to the difficulty of home schooling and of trying to telework while taking care of it, there is an additional concern for parents from disadvantaged families: to feed them.
Usually, the English system provides that children whose families have great financial difficulties receive free meals at school, a measure which affects around 1.7 million of them. But no more school, no more meals.
The British government has found the solution and offers an alternative: these families will now benefit from a food package containing enough food to meet the needs of a child for a week, the equivalent of five canteen meals, a total value of 15 pounds.
In many cases, it was Chartwells, a subsidiary of the Compass catering company usually responsible for school catering, which sent food packages. Problem: these sparked an uproar very quickly relayed on Twitter.
As the story goes Financial Times, indignant mothers have published the photo of the contents of the package intended for their children. The image of a packet of sandwich bread, two potatoes, three apples, a lonely tomato, two ailing bananas, a can of beans, a few slices of “cheese” and five snacks meant to feed a child for a week looks rather hard to see, on the one hand for its flagrant insufficiency and on the other hand because obviously, the account is not there. Internet users have calculated that far from the 15 pounds that this package is supposed to be worth, these food would cost less than 6 pounds at the local supermarket.
#FreeSchoolMeals bag for 10 days:
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. pic.twitter.com/87LGUTHXEu
— Roadside Mum (@RoadsideMum) January 11, 2021
Angela Rayner, Leader of the Opposition in the British Parliament, has stepped up to the plate: «In which pockets does the money for free school meals fall? Who benefits from the fact that our starving children are being provided with shamefully inadequate meals? ” and invited the families who received them to contact her directly by email.
Consequence of precipitation
The Harris Federation, which operates fifty schools in the UK, said it was stopping distributing Chartwells food parcels and replacing them with food vouchers. Marcus Rashford, a Manchester United club player committed to the cause of the food needs of disadvantaged children, spoke on social networks to denounce the situation.
“Three days of food for a family … that’s not enough.” (Note: the package is intended to feed a child, not an entire family.)
The education ministry said it had looked into the problem. Children and Families Minister Vicky Ford has met with Chartwells director and said she has been “Insured” that the company take measures to improve the quality of food packages distributed to families. The company admitted that it was responsible for the contents of these packages, but that this failure was the consequence of the haste with which the whole production and distribution system had to be finalized, having been warned too late to the imposition of confinement and closure of schools.
“As part of our efforts to deliver thousands of food packages per week in an extremely short time, we sincerely regret that the quantities were not up to par in this case”, she declared.
In reaction, other Internet users published images of the contents of the packages they had received to show, as here in Wales, that the mission was ultimately not impossible.
This is a picture of a parcel of food delivered by Caerphilly Borough Council to a family of 3 children – 10 days of food. CBC is one of the poorest authorities in South Wales. Not outsourced. This is what can be provided by people who actually care. pic.twitter.com/D3Tm1IygJy
— Anthony MATTHEWS #proEU (@Anthony91788627) January 12, 2021
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