Bristol news 'Unreserved apology' for sub-standard food parcels in Bristol MetiNews.Com
MetiNews.Com - The school and catering firm responded after Marcus Rashford's campaign on Twitter
Breaking News ! A catering firm has shared an "unreserved apology" after sending out sub-standard free school meal parcels to Bristol families. One parent contacted Bristol Live following national fury about the quality of free school meal provision, after another viral campaign on Twitter from Marcus Rashford yesterday (January 12). The Manchester United football player, who is a vocal campaigner against food poverty, called for an end to the "unacceptable" offering that some struggling families are having to make do with during the school closures. A parent of a pupil at Ashton Park secondary school in Bower Ashton shared an image of what was supposedly one week's worth of lunches. It appeared to show two large potatoes, two small pots of dried pasta with three small pots of sauce, a few carrot batons, a biscuit or two, a dried fruit pot and two small bags with what looked like hummus or cereal inside. The parent did not wish to share the image more widely as the school has since resolved the complaint. The secondary school, which is run by the Gatehouse Green Learning Trust, said it will arrange a review with its catering firm Innovate. Get the biggest stories from across Bristol straight to your inbox. 'Mistake after stock issues' A spokesperson for Impact Foods, the parent company for Innovate, said: "We apologise unreservedly for the food parcels received by parents this week at Ashton Park School. "The contents did not meet our standards, and we have been investigating with the catering manager concerned to understand what went wrong. "Our kitchen teams worked really hard to support the school but we had stock issues and a mistake was made in substituting some fresh products." Impact said its team has reached out to parents to offer a solution and to replace the missing products. The Education Secretary announced today (Wednesday, January 13) that the government will be resuming its national voucher scheme next week, as an alternative to the free school meal parcels. Find out what your local foodbank needs: This news was welcomed by Innovate, which admitted the parcel scheme had not worked efficiently. The spokesperson added: "We strongly believe that parents should have the flexibility and choice to provide the most suitable food for their child when out of school, something that is not possible from a parcel scheme and something we are not set up to do efficiently. "We therefore greatly welcome the return of the national voucher scheme as we feel that it is the best way to support families through this crisis." Ashton Park School also advocated weekly food vouchers as a better alternative to the food parcels.
. "We regret that the content of the hampers was not up to standard this week and will meet Innovate to review future provision. "We believe families would be better served by weekly food vouchers and will look to move to them once a national system becomes available." Marcus Rashford campaign A social media backlash was sparked by a mum on Twitter on Monday (January 11), after she posted a photo of her child's school meal bag - two jacket potatoes with beans, eight cheese sandwiches, two carrots, three apples, three yoghurt tubes, two bananas, dried pasta and a single tomato. She tweeted: "Issued instead of £30 vouchers. I could do more with £30 to be honest." Tens of thousands of people responded, including Marcus Rashford, who said it was "unacceptable". Chartwells, the catering firm she said was responsible for the parcel, has said it is "very sorry the quantity has fallen short in this instance". The Department for Education also said it would investigate, tweeting: "We have clear guidelines and standards for food parcels, which we expect to be followed. Parcels should be nutritious and contain a varied range of food."
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Chartwells is the same private company which was criticised by a Bristol primary school headteacher in March, when he tweeted about "shameful" food parcels consisting mainly of snack bars, crisps, bread and a slab of butter. The company, which is part of Compass Group UK & Ireland, won title of Contract Caterer of the Year at the EDUcatering Excellence Awards in 2019. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer branded some of the food parcels "woefully inadequate" and a "disgrace". The guidance for free school meals provision during the pandemic, which can be accessed here, states food parcels should "contain items which parents can use to prepare healthy lunches for their child/children across the week". It adds parcels should "not rely on parents having additional ingredients at home to prepare meals". Meals are available free of charge to all infant pupils, and all pupils who meet the benefits-related free school meals eligibility criteria.
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