LONDON – The rug-spread meal package included a box of beans and a variety of fruits, vegetables, snacks, slices of bread and cheese – items from a government program that provides low-income students with free lunches.
But when photos of the parcels, which were delivered to students at their homes as schools closed across Britain, were shared on social media this week, they were strongly condemned by parents and anti-hunger activists such as soccer star Marcus Rashford.
Critics said the food rations were meager, raising concerns about whether children were getting enough nutrition during the coronavirus pandemic, and that the government overpaid them.
A parent, who posted on Twitter a widely shared photo of one package that she said was supposed to last 10 days, said: “£ 30 in public funds was paid” or more than $ 40. “I would have bought this for £ 5.22,” she said, compared to items in her local supermarket.
Chartwells, the contractor responsible for providing the lunch package that was circulating on Twitter, said Tuesday that the photo contained enough for five days of school lunches, not 10, and that its fees, including distribution costs, totaled about $ 14.
But that has not been enough to quell the protests, and the government said on Wednesday it would reinstate voucher programs next week that would give parents the option to buy the meals themselves.
Under the program, schools that receive funding to provide lunch for low-income students get incentives if they send out lunch packages home. Food items should be used, according to the Department of Education’s website, to prepare “healthy lunches” and cater to “special meals” for students.
The mother, whose photo was widely circulated, said she welcomed the news of the transformation. “Most people can get a lot more miles from coupons than anything that gets put in bags and boxes,” the woman, who was identified only as Lisa, said on the site. Leading a chat radio station in Britain.
On Monday, Chartwells said it would refund costs “when our food parcels do not meet our usual high standards” and apologize for anyone affected. They added that a free breakfast will be included in parcels sent from January 25th.
Mr Rashford, who plays for Manchester United and has been a driving force for free meal programs during the pandemic, described the packages as “unacceptable” and He said Prime Minister Boris Johnson had promised him “A complete review of the supply chain.”
“These food parcels do not meet the standards we set and we have made clear to the company in question that this is a shame,” Johnson said on Twitter.
“The images that were shared on social media last night and today are completely unacceptable and do not reflect the high level of free school meals we expect to send to the children,” said Vicky Ford, Minister for Children and Families.
But some critics accused the government of blaming the contractors, saying it was a sign of the wider conflicts people are facing with Britain in the depth of another lockdown.
“It’s really horrific that profiteering is taking place in this crisis,” said Cath Dalmini, chief executive of the Sustainable Food and Agriculture Charity. She added that there was a lack of transparency about how large companies won contracts and that the government was not sufficiently aware that low-income families would struggle to get food during the lockdown.
Introduced the Free Meal Program for Students from families receiving government subsidies, Including those whose income is less than 7,400 pounds per year after tax.
Ms Dalmini said families who earn more than this limit also struggle to put food on the table.
“There is a deep political bias among our government against giving people money – even in the event of an epidemic,” she added. “Unfortunately, it’s the children who end up suffering.”
The accident was part of a pattern of private firms awarding government contracts that falter on quality to maximize profits, he said The bill is goodGovernance Supervision Authority. Mr Johnson’s government awarded Billions of dollars in contracts related to the pandemic For companies with political connections, no relevant experience and a history of controversy, and often a rapid advance over competitors.
“There is a culture of the central government that is not only concerned with providing high-quality services to the population,” said Julion Mugham, the group’s director, adding that the country needs more ways to achieve accountability and transparency.
Around 1.4 million children reported free school meals in the 2019-2020 school year Government figures.
Among the pictures, Ms. Dalmini said it went viral because it spoke to people’s hearts. “If I imagined feeding a child this week after week.”