Sheffield mum blasts ‘disgraceful’ free school meals parcel given in lieu of voucher

A Sheffield mum has been left outraged at the contents of a food parcel she received as part of the Government’s free school meals programme.

Tuesday, 12th January 2021, 9:10 pm

Amy Bradshaw, from Southey Green, is just one of dozens of parents from across the country who have shared photos of the parcels, which are given instead of £15 a week vouchers for those children who are entitled to the benefit.

Her box contained just two potatoes, two single cheese slices, two eggs, five slices of bread, a tin of beans, two small boxes of cereal, a handful of fruit and vegetables, some pasta and biscuits and some Long Life milk – items which were intended to feed her seven-year-old for a week.

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Sheffield mum Amy Bradshaw shared the contents of the food parcel she received and branded it "disgraceful"

The mum, who also has a three-month-old at home, branded it “disgraceful" and said she is lucky in that she can afford to top up her parcel but feels for families who are less fortunate.

She said: “It’s just ridiculous. People are given more food in prison than what they have given to children on free school meals.

"The onion was all soft and mushy so that went straight in the bin. There were also recipe sheets that came with it showing you how to, for example, make yoghurt lollies to put in the freezer but it didn’t come with yoghurt anyway.

"You wouldn't even be able to make one decent meal out of it. Don’t get me wrong I get enough money to feed my child anyway – it’s the school that said she was entitled to a box and told me to fetch it.

Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford – who has been behind a drive to get free school meals to children who need them – has called for the system to be fixed. Picture: PA

"But, there is children out there that solely rely on these boxes and it will be the only thing they get to eat. What they’ve given wouldn’t even provide a warm meal for a child every day.”

Amy said that she is able to feed her family – which includes her partner and two daughters – for five days on a budget of £15 when shopping at places such as Aldi or Iceland.

And when doing a comparison shop for the items in the parcel, adding say a full box of eggs instead of a singular one, she says the total came to just £15.50.

Department for Education (DfE) guidance says schools should work with their school catering team or food provider to provide food parcels to eligible free school meal children at home during the lockdown.

Some food poverty campaigners have now accused the Government of allowing private companies to 'profiteer' and make money by providing inadequate meals to hungry children.

Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford – who has been behind a drive to get free school meals to children who need them – has called for the system to be fixed “quickly” and challenged to ministers to do better for children unable to get their usual free school meals.

MPs, paediatrics and sector leaders have also called for a review of food packages being sent out to families.

Downing Street has said the contents of some free school meal food parcels sent to families are “completely unacceptable” and that the Government is urgently looking into the issue.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.