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Teachers Slam 'Shameful' Food Package For Children On Free School Meals

Teachers Slam 'Shameful' Food Package For Children On Free School Meals

This week, the government introduced free school meals for children eligible amid the Covid-19 crisis.

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Now, a disgusted head teacher has called out his free meals supplier for their 'shameful' rations, which included cooking butter and bread with a sell-by date of February 2021.

Peter Overton, head teacher of Easton CE Academy in St Jude's, Bristol, was forced to hand out 185 "inadequate" meals on Tuesday evening.

The weekly ration includes a loaf of bread - with a sell-by date of February 2021 - a 250g portion of baking butter, a small block of cheese, five pieces of fruit, five biscuits or cakes, five packs of crisps and two yoghurts.

Peter Overton, head teacher of Easton CE Academy in St Jude's, Bristol, isn't satisfied with the free school meals (Credit: Kennedy News)
Peter Overton, head teacher of Easton CE Academy in St Jude's, Bristol, isn't satisfied with the free school meals (Credit: Kennedy News)

The meal packs are provided by the school's contractors Chartwells, part of Compass Group, who reportedly failed to meet their deadline on Monday evening, sending just ham sandwiches for children.

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As most of 90% of the children in the school only eat halal food, the sandwiches had to be sent back. As a replacement, the school was handed the underwhelming packages.

Now, Mr Overton is urging Compass Group - the world's biggest catering company with a reported profit of £1.88 billion last year - to do more, as many families with no income are replying on the meals to eat.

Peter posted the contents on Facebook (Credit: Kennedy News)
Peter posted the contents on Facebook (Credit: Kennedy News)

"It's totally inadequate. Families are in pretty urgent need - today," the teacher said. "We've had families contact us saying they have no food in house.

"We've got 185 meals to distribute each day. [The school] pay £2.20 [a day] to the contractors for the free school meals - £11 per week - and this is one week's supply.

"The children with free school meals rely on [this] as the main meal of the day.

"Parents are a bit underwhelmed. A lot of them are taxi drivers and self-employed so there's no work for them and their income has dried up.

"They're relying on this as a main source of food at the moment until the government sorts out their income support."

The bread had a sell-by-date of February 2020 (Credit: Kennedy News)
The bread had a sell-by-date of February 2020 (Credit: Kennedy News)

Easton CE Academy has its students come and pick up their lunches each week, which are expected to last 5 days.

"At first [Chartwells] couldn't make the Monday deadline so they sent just a sandwich. That came in a ham sandwich, but 90 per cent of our children are Muslim who are halal, so we had to return those.

"They changed those into cheese sandwiches but that wasn't available for Monday. Then yesterday, we took the delivery of the set of items in the photo.

"We've had one parent who we gave the supply to yesterday because they had no food. They contacted us again today because they thought that was the day's supply, not for the week.

"The butter is cooking and baking spread and the bread has a shelf life until February 2021 - I've never seen bread with a shelf life that long so I don't know what it's made of."

Peter posted a photo of the rations on Facebook, calling out the "shameful" portions.

Easton CE Academy in St Jude's, Bristol (Credit: Kennedy News)
Easton CE Academy in St Jude's, Bristol (Credit: Kennedy News)

"The government is saying if the school or contractors aren't able to supply food, they are talking about £3 a day for each child," he added.

"£15 a week of vouchers that can be cashed in at a local supermarket. That would be a much better scenario for our families but there needs to be some national or local coordination of that scheme.

"Our argument is if this is the plan from the contractor then that's not good enough."

A spokesperson for Chartwells responded to the backlash, saying: "We have apologised to schools and families in Bristol for the issues we faced in providing packed lunches.

"Unfortunately, given the short turnaround time following the Government's decision to close schools, and difficulties faced in the food supply chain resulting from Covid-19, we were forced to use contingency suppliers and we recognise the provision was not what we'd hoped to supply."

They added: "Our teams are working hard to ensure every child is fed, and to ensure we meet the varying dietary and logistical needs of schools and their students. These are being a reviewed on a regular basis and we are committed to playing our role in the response to coronavirus."

Featured Image Credit: Kennedy News

Topics: News, Life, Real Life

Ciara Sheppard

Ciara is a freelance writer working for Tyla. After graduating with an English Lit and Media degree from the University of Sussex, Ciara held jobs at GLAMOUR and Yahoo Style before packing up for a solo travelling trip around South America.

 

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