Boris Johnson and his government have been at the centre of a storm of outrage over the shameful contents of food parcels supplied by Chartwells, a company which also supplies catering to private schools.
The government outsourced the contract for supplying the food parcels in place of £30 food vouchers.
Despondent parents soon began posting photos of the food parcels on social media.
Each parcel was meant to supply lunch for one child for ten days.
To call their contents frugal would be a gross understatement.
These “hampers” often contained barely enough food to last one or two days.
Some included small bags of dried pasta, and even half a pepper and tomato.
The Manchester Evening News went shopping to see what we could buy at a well-known supermarket chain for £25.
We took off £5 from the £30 to account for overheads such as storage, transport, and staffing costs, a very generous number.
What we came back with was enough food to easily put together a menu of ten days’ worth of lunches, with money to spare for milk, squash, and snacks.
The menu is healthy and nutritious, and there is even space for a treat at the end of the week.
This shows that if the government had acted competently on this issue, children could not only have enough to eat for lunch, but they also wouldn’t have to settle for second best either.
Education secretary Gavin Williamson has since announced that schools will be able to replace the dismal free school meal hampers with vouchers from Monday.
Williamson confirmed that schools may continue to use local services if they wish, but that the government scheme will return next week.
Instead of hampers, parents will receive £15 vouchers that they can use in supermarkets to purchase one week’s worth of food.
The anger has drawn the attention of Manchester United player and activist Marcus Rashford.
Posting on his social media, he expressed satisfaction at the progress being made in talks with the government. He tweeted: “Just had a good conversation with the Prime Minister. He has assured me that he is committed to correcting the issue with the food hampers and that a full review of the supply chain is taking place. He agrees that images of hampers being shared on Twitter are unacceptable.”
With the option of the voucher scheme now available, hopefully these images will be a thing of the past.
Here is our ten day lunch menu in full:
Day 1: Turkey sandwich with mayo, a banana, carrot sticks, rice pudding
Day 2: Jacket potato with turkey, butter, and mayo, an apple, rice pudding
Day 3: Ham sandwich, an apple, celery sticks, granola bar
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Day 4: Tomato soup and a roll, carrot sticks, tangerine, granola bar
Day 5: Pasta with tomato sauce and vegetables, apple, granola bar
Day 6: Jacket potato with cheese, celery stick, tangerine, granola bar
Day 7: Carrot and coriander soup and a roll, carrot sticks, a banana, granola bar
Day 8: Jacket potato with beans, carrot sticks, banana, rice pudding
Day 9: Beans on toast, carrot sticks, tangerine
Day 10: Fish and chips with mushy peas and carrots, apple, chocolate muffin