To: Gavin Williamson, education secretary
With schools closed, thousands of hungry children across Britain who usually get free school meals need other food to see them through the week.
The government is paying private catering company Chartwells to provide this – but now it has come to light that their ‘meal boxes’ are painfully inadequate.
Instead of the £30 voucher many parents were receiving before, they are now being sent boxes that barely contain £5 worth of food.
One parent’s box contained: “2 cans of baked beans, 2 bananas, half a pepper, some loose slices of bread, one potato, one carrot, 2 eggs, one onion and 2 ziplock bags of cheese and pasta.”
This is nowhere near enough food to last for the school week it is supposed to cover.
The contract should be taken away from these profiteering private firms, and parents should be given the £30 vouchers again instead.
“My 13 year old granddaughter had to go to the school to collect her food parcel to cover 4 days. It contained: 4 slices of bread, 4 tiny sachets of margarine, 2 muffins, 1 jacket potato, 1 tin of tuna, a small amount of grated cheese & a few apples. Appalling.”Carole, Kent
“Vouchers are the only way to ensure all children get the food they need. Even the healthiest food parcels will exclude children with sensory issues and dietary requirements. Families should not be told ‘this is what you’re getting’ but should be trusted to buy their own food.”Katie, Dorset
“As a retired teacher I know how important nutrition is for adequate learning and also how much some children depend on free school meals in difficult times such as these. It is utterly despicable that any individuals or groups should seek to profit from children’s hunger.”Norman, Canterbury
“My box was barely enough for 1 meal, never mind 3 kids over 5 days.”Abbie, Staffordshire
“It’s disgraceful that money is going into someone else’s pocket to provide a pathetic amount of food to those less well off. Trust them to manage how they use a voucher – strip out the greedy middleman!”Teresa, Somerset
“This is disgusting blatant profiteering. My partner who has cancer had a weekly food parcel delivered in the last lockdown: you couldn’t survive four days with the contents and the fresh food was a joke contained rotten potatoes and fruit on arrival. Stop jobs for the boys – pass out food contracts to local closed restaurants.”Eric, York
“I was given a loaf of bread dated the 20th December and the yogurt meant for my children was extremely high sugar content.”Lisa, South London
“It’s simply outrageous that the government does not trust parents to use a £30 food voucher sensibly for their children, and then add insult to injury by providing food boxes that clearly wouldn’t cover more than two days. Also the fact that the company providing the food boxes, Chartwells, is owned by a large Conservative party donor.”Pedro, Vale of Glamorgan
“My grandkids came home with a hamper like this, one parent is on furlough and the other parent lost their job due to Covid. Why should these big companies profit from our kids.”Cass, Cheshire