Free school meals supplier says it will refund costs after backlash over 'unacceptable' parcels

13 January 2021, 10:36 | Updated: 13 January 2021, 12:43

Food packages sent to children have been shared online
Food packages sent to children have been shared online. Picture: Twitter

An image of one food parcel was criticised by footballer Marcus Rashford.

A company which provides free school meals has said it will refund costs after complaints on social media.

Chartwells has said costs would be refunded "where our parcels have not met our usual high standard after photos were shared online of ‘inadequate’ supplies of food.

The company is part of Marcus Rashford's child food poverty campaign, and has been providing packages to children in England who would normally get free school meals.

But pictures have been shared by outraged parents this week which show the tiny lunches provided.

One mum went viral after she shared a photo of two carrots, two potatoes and a tin of baked beans and some yoghurts.

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While she had thought the parcel was supposed to last ten school days and should have been worth £30, she calculated the cost to be only about £5.

It was then retweeted 15,000 times on Twitter and received 36,000 likes, with footballer Marcus Rushford also saying 'children deserve better'.

Chartwells have since claimed it was actually only intended to last one school week, but acknowledged it wasn’t enough.

Marcus Rashford MBE has called the food parcels 'unacceptable'
Marcus Rashford MBE has called the food parcels 'unacceptable'. Picture: PA Images

A spokesperson said: "For clarity, this shows five days of free school lunches (not 10 days) and the charge for food, packing and distribution was actually £10.50 and not £30 as suggested.

"However, in our efforts to provide thousands of food parcels a week, at extremely short notice, we are very sorry the quantity has fallen short in this instance."

Chartwells have also said it will enhance food parcels following the Department for Education's additional allowance of £3.50 per week per child.

It said it will make sure "that every penny goes into the provision of the food".

Several other parents have since come forward and tweeted images of their own parcels, including one who said they were 'disgusted' at a package containing just a few fruit and veg.

Downing Street has also said the photos shared on social media are 'completely unacceptable'.

The Department for Education has responded by confirming that schools will be able to return to the national school voucher scheme from Monday.

The government run scheme will give parents £15 vouchers which can be used in supermarkets to buy a week's worth of food for their child.

Gavin Williamson told the Education Committee in the Commons that schools will have the option to continue using local services.

But he told MPs he was 'absolutely disgusted' after seeing a picture of a meagre food parcels delivered to parents.

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