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Disgraced free school meal firm adds breakfast to parcels

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14/01/2021
A catering firm under fire for its ‘woefully inadequate’ food parcels delivered to vulnerable children amid the pandemic school closures will add free breakfast items to boxes.
Source: @RoadsideMum

Private catering firm Chartwells was slammed for its disgraceful ‘£30’ free school meals provision to last 10 days after angry parents posted photos of the meagre parcels on social media.

Once the food items had been tallied up, parents said the packages included just £5 worth of food for the period.

Twitter user @RoadsideMum kicked off the complaints about the scheme. She Tweeted: “#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.”

The photo was widely shared and footballer Marcus Rashford who spearheaded a campaign for free school meals during the holidays and amid the school closures said it was “unacceptable” and “children deserve better than this”.

It prompted the Department for Education to look into the provision and Rashford also had a discussion with the Prime Minister and Chartwells.

Chartwells has now announced it will add free breakfast to their food parcels for children eligible for free school meals. Items include a bloomer, bagel, butter, yoghurts, juice, milk, oats and fruit and it will be fully funded by the firm.

Charlie Brown, managing director of Chartwells UK, said: “In normal times we are inside schools cooking nutritious meals for children and in many cases offering breakfast, so our absolute priority is to help our schools and families continue to eat well through lockdown.

“We acknowledge that when schools were closed it caused some local issues as we switched from meals to parcels. We have been listening to parents and working out how we can best use our resources to do more to help.

“From 25 January, we will be adding breakfast into the parcels which will be free of charge to schools for all children eligible for free school meals and we will continue this provision while schools are closed. We hope this will further support children with their learning through the day”.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson also confirmed a national food voucher scheme will be launched next week.

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