A dad has blasted this appalling ‘£30’ free school meals pack given to feed his daughter for a week – worth just £4 and containing little more than bread and ham.
Dad-of-one Simon Young, 50, said the so-called hamper was barely enough to feed daughter Lola, 11, for three days
She qualifies for free school meals, and earlier in the lockdown unemployed Simon got £30 vouchers he could spend at the supermarket.
But last week he “thought it was a joke” when he picked up the food parcel from school, which has no replaced the voucher scheme.
Single dad Simon from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, worked as a drumming teacher before Covid wiped out his lessons.
But because it was a new business, he didn’t qualify for government funding.
He estimates the food he was given to feed his daughter cost about £4.
Speaking yesterday (12) he said: “To see what food we were given, my first reaction was to laugh at how tiny the portions were.
“I remember thinking ‘this is an absolute joke.’
“I have an 11-year-old daughter, and for her, that food will last three days, maximum, so then what am I supposed to do?
“This is not enough to feed a growing child.”
The dad explained how when he collected the first meal pack last week, he believed the measures were temporary before the £30 school meal voucher scheme re-started.
But has since learned the tiny food parcels are its replacement, when he was called in to collect this week’s package.
Lola’s pack contained a loaf of bread, three slices of cheese, two slices of ham, two packets of crisps, an apple, a pear, and two slices of tray-baked cakes.
He said: “It’s ridiculous, there isn’t even enough sandwich fillings for five sandwiches – and what am I supposed to do, cut the apple in half to make it last two meals?
“Lola is a growing girl, one of the tallest in her class, and there’s no way this would last her a week, even if we stretch it out as far as possible.
Simon explained how he has been forced to supplement the rations with some of his own limited money, just to have enough food so his daughter wouldn’t go hungry.
He said: “I’m in a fortunate position because I’m able to supplement it a bit if we stick to a budget, but not every parent will have that option.
“There is no way to make a good lunch out of that food, so I can’t imagine what it must be like for parents in a worse position than me.”
Another mum was told how she was forced to throw away the meagre package she got because it contained open fresh food products that weren’t refrigerated.
The 34-year-old single mum from Plymouth picked up the parcel for her six-year-old son who qualifies for free school meals, last week.
Intended to feed a child for a week, it consisted of plastic boxes – some broken – filled with approximately two tablespoons of beans, and the same quantity of cheese, chopped tomatoes and tuna.
There was a tub of dry pasta, two potatoes and single yoghurt and tomato, and two apples.
During last lockdown she was given £15 vouchers which thanks to savvy shopping at Aldi, she was easily able to turn into nutritious hot lunches.
But last week she got an email to tell her the vouchers had been replaced with a pick-up “hamper” service.
The mum, who worked for ten years before recent ill health, said: “They gave me it in a plastic carrier bag and some of the lids were broken or cracked.
“I was really shocked, if I’m honest with you.
“There were around tablespoons of beans, a little bit of cheese, two tablespoons of tuna, a little box of pasta, and a couple of tablespoons of chopped tomatoes – but that was mostly just the juice.
“That’s supposed to be for a week.
“I didn’t know how long it had been out the fridge and it was fresh food, so I had to chuck it out, as bad as that is. Especially at the moment, you have to be so careful about health.
“I’m lucky – I have got my parents.
“I used to be able to get a lot with £15 vouchers. It goes a long way in somewhere like Aldi. It helped massively. I can get a lot with that. i can make it stretch really far.
“But what they gave me can’t have cost more than a couple of pounds.
“It’s embarrassing. When they gave you that, it made me feel embarrassed for myself.”
A third mum, Sabina Weeks, also received a shock when she opened the food parcel for her 12-year-old son’s lunches, when she found she only had enough ingredients for two meals.
33-year-old Sabina, who lives in Lambeth, South London, said she found it “saddening” that the Government believed her meagre food hamper would feed her hungry son for a week.
She said the hamper, which contained one portion of pasta, one portion of noodles, a handful of fruit and vegetables and an egg, would stretch to a maximum two full-sized meals – and she calculated the total cost to be just £4.
She said: “It’s so disheartening for struggling parents to already be in this position where we have to ask for help, it’s not what any parent wants.
“So to then do this to children is a bit of a kick in the teeth, and it makes you feel worse as a parent.”
In a tweet addressing Lambeth council and local politicians, she said: “This will just about make two meals.
“Can anyone tell me how I’m supposed to feed my son with this for an entire week?”