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Conservative MP Defends ‘Unacceptable’ Food Parcels Sent To Hungry Children

by : Julia Banim on : 13 Jan 2021 10:23
Conservative MP Defends 'Unacceptable' Food Parcels Sent To Hungry ChildrenConservative MP Defends 'Unacceptable' Food Parcels Sent To Hungry ChildrenChannel 4/RoadsideMum/Twitter

A Conservative MP has defended the ‘unacceptable’ free school meals packages that were recently distributed to parents following the closure of schools.

Many prominent anti-poverty campaigners, including footballer Marcus Rashford and food writer Jack Monroe, spoke out after a photograph went viral showing the contents of the inadequate food parcel.

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The post, shared by Twitter user Roadside Mum, argued that the food in the package could have been bought for just £5.22, despite families being entitled to £30 worth of food.

However, Pauline Latham, Conservative MP for Mid Derbyshire, has defended the controversial packages during an appearance on Channel 4 News, stating, ‘It’s only their lunch’:

The schools make the decision. It isn’t the government. The schools decide whether they want to use local vouchers with a local provider. There are some national ones coming online any minute now. We don’t give out cash as such.

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Latham added:

The whole point of this is to give a balanced meal for the children.

After host Jon Snow asked Latham whether or not she agreed that child poverty was unacceptable, she stated:

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This is a particularly difficult situation at the moment. Clearly, due to the pandemic, many people have unfortunately lost their jobs and are finding it very difficult to manage at the moment.

She continued:

It is up to the schools to make that decision, they can give them the voucher. They can choose how the food gets to the pupils.

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A spokesperson for Chartwells, the food service company that provided the packages, made the following statement to Metro after the business was called out:

We take our responsibility to provide children with access to nutritious food very seriously. We have worked hard to produce food hampers at incredibly short notice during these challenging times.

Our hampers follow the DofE specifications and contain a variety of ingredients to support families in providing meals throughout the week.

In the majority of instances, we have received positive feedback. In this instance, the image on Twitter falls short of our hamper specification and we are keen to investigate with the relevant school so we can address any operational issues that may have arisen.

The Department of Education (DoE) has also stated that it is looking into the parcel, stating:

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

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You can watch Latham’s full appearance on Channel 4 News here.

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Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: News, Now

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Roadside Mum/Twitter and 2 others