The Compass Group has reportedly apologised after its catering branch Chartwells recently came under fire for falling short on the government requirements for the amount of food it provides per child after a photo of its food packages was released on Twitter.
During the lockdown restrictions, Chartwells and other caterers have been at the forefront of providing food at home to pupils eligible for free school meals, which replaced the government issued “emergency system” of £15 vouchers per week when schools first had to shut.
Marcus Rashford, who has been advocating for free school meals during the pandemic since last October, reportedly “condemned the packages” sent out by Chartwells saying “we must do better”.
The photo caught the attention of the Department of Education and Children’s minister Vicky Ford, who tweeted: “The photos being shared on social media are completely unacceptable and do not reflect the high standard of free school meals we expect to be sent to children.
“I will be looking into this urgently – food parcels should cover all lunchtime meals & be nutritious – we’ve increased funding for parcels & will support local vouchers – national voucher also rolling out ASAP, working night & day on this. Hope your kids are ok.”
She added: “In the meantime, the government will be demanding that caterers urgently improve the quality of lunches they provide to eligible children – this will make sure every one of them receives a healthy, nutritious lunch that will give them the fuel they need to focus on learning at home.”
Compass responded to the photo by releasing a statement on Twitter: “For clarity, this shows five days of free school lunches (not 10 days) and the charge for food, packing and distribution was actually £10.50 and not £30 as suggested.
“However, in our efforts to provide thousands of food parcels a week, at extremely short notice, we are very sorry the quantity has fallen short in this instance. In our efforts to provide thousands of food parcels a week at extremely short notice we are very sorry the quantity has fallen short in this instance.”