Scarborough school admits its free meal package is 'disappointing' after parent's complaint

A parent of a Scarborough Primary School has complained about the quality of the free school meal packages they were provided with for their children.

By George Buksmann
Thursday, 14th January 2021, 1:45 pm
Updated Thursday, 14th January 2021, 1:47 pm

The trust that runs Friarage Primary School has admitted that the meals provided were not up to standard and says they are aware of the complaints and that they are disappointed.

The parent said that if they went to Aldi they could have bought the contents of the package for £8 and that they do not know where the rest of the money is going.

Free school meal packages have been sent out instead of £15 a week vouchers for those children who are entitled to the benefit.

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The free school meal package provided to a Scarborough parent.

The package contained seven carrots, a few potatoes, six yoghurts, a cucumber, a tin of baked beans and spaghetti hoops, nine apples, four oranges, some bread rolls, a small bag of grated cheese, a few biscuits wrapped in clingfilm, and a "weird bag of tuna." The hamper provided is intended to last three children for five days.

“It worries me for the kids who are genuinely in need. At school at least they are prepared to have a hot meal every day. If that’s what is getting sent home for families it scares me that there are kids who aren’t eating.

“There are parents who can’t afford it and it disappoints me, it massively disappoints me [what’s being provided]. I just don’t understand why this is what’s being handed out to parents."

The designated CEO of the Scalby Learning Trust which runs the school, Brian Crosby, said: “We heard the complaints of parents and they were justified and we are very disappointed.

“The school wrote to all the parents apologising and asking if anybody wanted additional food that they would provide additional supplies for them. So they went out their way to try and address that issue."

Mr Crosby said that Friarage Primary School will be swapping to a voucher scheme by the end of the week.

The school uses North Yorkshire Catering to provide the meals and has been struggling with staff having to self isolate because of coronavirus.

“Because of the nature of people being away through Covid from the school kitchen service, it’s too unreliable and we need to have some certainty for the families that we’re serving.

“If you have a situation where you can’t guarantee staff turning up because of the isolation then you need to have plan B. So the plan is to give the voucher scheme, per child per week, so the parents can actually get the food themselves."

The Government was forced into another U-turn late last night as the 'food parcel first' policy has been dropped and new national vouchers can be applied for from next Monday.

Photos of substandard food packages started appearing on social media on Monday, the children's minister Vicky Ford said on Tuesday evening: "The photos being shared on social media today are completely unacceptable and do not reflect the high standard of free school meals we expect to be sent to children."

Guidance on the Government website says that free school meals should be varied, balanced and healthy and should not rely on parents to have additional ingredients to prepare meals.

In response to the national outcry, the Department for Education tweeted: “We have clear guidelines and standards for food parcels, which we expect to be followed,” and that they were investigating the issue.

Footballer Marcus Rashford forced the government into a U-turn in June over the provision of free school meals for children during the summer holidays.

He forced the government’s hand on child hunger once again in the autumn on expanding the free school meals programme through subsequent school holidays.