Food writer Jack Monroe condemns ‘offensively meagre’ food parcels sent to feed children during lockdown

Lily Wakefield
·4-min read

Food writer and anti-poverty campaigner Jack Monroe has vowed to get to bottom of why parents are being provided with “offensively meagre” food parcels to feed their children by government contractors.

The writer – who has written extensively in the past about their experience of living in poverty – slammed the tiny food parcels which are being provided to families eligible for free school meals in place of £30 supermarket vouchers.

Following campaigning by footballer Marcus Rashford, families were given a £30 voucher per eligible child over the Christmas holidays, and during term time, the UK government has been providing food to children eligible for free school meals in the form of vouchers or food parcels.

However many parents have shared shocking images of the inadequate parcels, which have been estimated to represent approximately £5 worth of food (at supermarket prices).

One angry parent shared an image of a loaf of bread, a bag of pasta, three apples, two potatoes, two carrots, one tomato, two bananas, as well as beans, cheese singles, malt load and Frubes.

“I could do more with £30 to be honest,” she wrote.

Monroe revealed on Monday (11 January) that many more parents had been sending them photos of the food parcels, asking what they could make with them.

They wrote: “I’ve been sent LOTS of photos of the food parcels that have replaced the £30 vouchers and asked what I would do with them.

“I’m replying with advice privately because to do so publicly would look like justifying these ill thought through, offensively meagre scraps.

“There seems to be a prevalent train of thought that if you’re in poverty you should be ‘grateful’ for anything you get.

“I have spent the last seven years giving talks to various organisations and conferences and political parties urging them to put DIGNITY AND ACTIVE LISTENING at the core of all of their work.

“Nothing about us without us. Ask people what their needs are, respond accordingly. Don’t be a Marie Antoinette or worse, a sneering Scrooge. People in difficult situations are PEOPLE, no less ‘deserving’ of a good meal than anyone else.”

Food writer Jack Monroe “won’t rest” until they find out who is profiting off the “most vulnerable in our society”

Monroe shared a photo of their own food shop, worth £20, compared to one of the food parcels intended to last a child five days.

They added: So what I want to know is: WHO IS MAKING AN ABSOLUTE FORTUNE OUT OF SCAMMING THE POOREST AND MOST VULNERABLE IN OUR SOCIETY NOW?

“Who has those contracts? What are they trousering? And you can bet I won’t rest til I find out.

“People deserve BETTER than constantly shouldering the financial mismanagement of this frickin’ Government; and it’s always the people who can afford the least that are asked to bear the biggest burden.”

According to official guidance, families can be given supermarket vouchers totalling £30 per child for two school weeks (10 days). However, schools are “strongly encouraged” to use food parcels instead of vouchers. The department advises: “Where school kitchens are open this should be the approach taken by schools.” Elsewhere, private companies have been contracted by the government to step in.

Some of the food parcels shared by Monroe were provided by the private catering company Chartwells, part of the huge service company Compass Group. According to Metro, the groups ex-chair Paul Walsh was previously a member of a government business advisory group under David Cameron.

The Department for Education said it was “looking into” the vastly inadequate food parcels.

Chartwells also claimed to be “investigating”.