a dietitian’s view of the free school meals packages

A couple of carrots, a tin of beans and some wonky slices of processed cheese. It doesn’t sound like much, but this is the bulk of what was provided to a mother in her son’s free school meals package – which is meant to last a family 10 days. The mother, who goes by the username @Roadsidemum, uploaded a photo of the slim pickings to Twitter and it promptly went viral. 

The photo immediately sparked outrage online and has been shared more than 18,000 times on the platform – including by the footballer Marcus Rashford, who campaigned to ensure families were supplied with food during the last lockdown. He wrote on Twitter: “Where is this being rolled out? If families are entitled to £30 worth of food, why is there [sic] delivery only equating to just over £5?! 1 child or 3, this what they are receiving? Unacceptable.”

The government’s free school meal packages are supposed to amount to the equivalent of £30; but the food in this mother’s hamper would suggest otherwise. The Twitter user’s picture shows a loaf of bread, a bag of pasta, one can of baked beans, some cheese, three apples, two carrots, one tomato, two baked potatoes, two bananas, two malt loaf snacks and three snack size tubes of fromage frais.

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