“It’s a disgrace”: Birmingham MP’s condemn “meagre” free school meal packages

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Credit: @dontknowwattodo

Birmingham MP’s and Councillors have condemned the “disgusting” food parcels provided to children over lockdown.

Jack Dromey, MP for Erdington, likened the contents of the parcels to “something out of Oliver Twist”.

“Some of the food parcels that have been posted on social media in the past 24 hours have been disgraceful. These companies are profiteering from free school meals.”

“I find it disgusting that large corporations are putting profits before kids”, said Birmingham Councillor for Bromford and Hodge Hill Majid Mahmood.

Preet Kaur Gill, Labour MP for Edgbaston, has called on the government to scrap the food parcel scheme and instead provide food vouchers worth the full £30.

“Families are entitled to £30 worth of food. The government must explain why they are only receiving £5 worth”.

Manchester United footballer and anti-poverty activist Marcus Rashford said the parcels were “just not good enough”.

“Not even a loaf of bread”

One Birmingham mum said it was a “crying shame” that the government continue to fail struggling parents.

Melanie Powell, an early years practitioner and mum of two, said:

“When I first opened the bag, I thought, ‘not even a loaf of bread”.

“The message it sends to me is that the health of kids diet is not important. I’m grateful for the food but there is still nowhere near enough for a week”.  

“I’m not sure what the families are expected to make with them”

Kerry Lenihan, director of the Aston and Nechells foodbank in Birmingham, believes these parcels are “nowhere near adequate.”

 “For some children the meals they receive in school are absolutely vital to ensuring they get the nutrients they need to grow up healthily. Removing this lifeline, especially with the added pressures from the pandemic, is careless at best and negligent at worst.”

Government to investigate

Ms Lenihan has criticised the governments decision to outsource the distribution of food.

“If the government cannot manage the distribution of food parcels adequately then they should give the funding directly to the schools. Teachers genuinely care about their pupils and can ensure those needing food are given adequate provisions”

Chartwells, a catering company providing parcels to families in Birmingham, has promised an immediate investigation.

The Department of Education is also investigating the matter. In a statement they said:

“We have clear guidelines and standards for food parcels, which we expect to be followed. Parcels should contain a varied range of food”.

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