Marcus Rashford reveals Boris Johnson has promised to fix ‘unacceptable’ free school meals in private phone call

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·News Reporter
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Boris Johnson has described free school meals offered this week as "unacceptable", Marcus Rashford has said. (PA/@MarcusRashford)
Boris Johnson has described images of free school meals as 'unacceptable', Marcus Rashford has said. (PA/@MarcusRashford)

Boris Johnson has vowed to fix the “unacceptable” free school meals sent to families, in a phone call to England footballer and food poverty campaigner Marcus Rashford.

Social media users expressed outrage on Tuesday after photos of food hampers containing ingredients described as “woefully inadequate” and “meagre” were posted on Twitter.

The Manchester United forward tweeted on Wednesday morning that the PM had told him a “full review of the supply chain is taking place”.

Read more: Marcus Rashford 'overwhelmed' after PM's climbdown over free school meals

Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions, Johnson said he was grateful to Rashford “who highlighted the issue”.

“The company in question has rightly apologised and agreed to reimburse.

“It’s because we want to see our kids properly fed throughout this very difficult pandemic that we’ve massively increased the value of what we’re providing.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer branded the meals as “woefully inadequate” while 23-year-old Rashford posted a photo and said it was “just not good enough”.

They are sent to families for lunches as their children study at home and are supplied by companies such as Chartwells.

Children’s minister Vicky Ford said the photos “do not reflect the high standard of free school meals we expect to be sent to children” and that the CEO of Chartwells had apologised.

Watch: Education secretary 'disgusted' at picture of free school meal

Education secretary Gavin Williamson said he was “absolutely disgusted” by the parcels.

He told the House of Commons Education Committee: “As a dad myself, I just thought, ‘How can a family in receipt of that really be expected to deliver five nutritious meals as required?’

“It is just not acceptable. It has being made absolutely clear to Chartwells and to the whole sector that that sort of behaviour is just not right, it will not be tolerated we will not live with that.

“There are clear standards as a sector that they need to deliver against, and if they do not deliver against them, actions will have to be taken.”

Read more: In pictures: The shoddy food parcels sent to families under 'free meals' scheme

In a statement reacting to one photo yesterday, Chartwells said that “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.

“Our 10-day hampers typically include a wide variety of nutritious food items to support the provision of lunches for children.”

Some pictures posted online are said to be provided by other suppliers.

Watch: What is long COVID?

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