‘Unacceptable’ free food parcels for Shoreham pupils supplemented by supermarket

A Shoreham school was able to bulk up meagre food parcels for pupils after a supermarket stepped in to offer produce at a discount.

Friday, 15th January 2021, 4:12 pm
Left: The original food parcel contents. Right: The extra food provided by Tesco

Teachers at Swiss Gardens Primary School who unpacked the free food parcels intended for eligible pupils, which were supposed to contain enough food for a week, were left less than impressed.

Alastair Reid, chairman of governors at the school, said: “They took one look at it and said, that’s totally unacceptable.”

Staff decided to do something about it, and when they approached Tesco Holmbush and explained the situation, the supermarket kindly gave them around £200 worth of food for just £35 to supplement the hampers.

The food provided in the original parcel

Mr Reid said the reaction from parents receiving the newly-improved food parcels was ‘amazing’.

“The parents were so grateful,” he said. “For some of them it might be the only food they get.

“That was quite emotional, handing over bags of stuff.”

Mr Reid said it was a good reminder that, amid these difficult times, schools were going above and beyond for their pupils.

Food provided by Tesco at a large discount

“The lovely teachers are doing three jobs, teaching kids at school, teaching kids at home and a lot of them are homeschooling their own kids at the same time,” he said.

“And they are not just looking after their educational needs, they are being an extension of social services. This is just one example.”

The food parcel story was shared around parents and governors at school, ‘giving everyone a lift’, he said.

The Government came under pressure after photos showing the contents of the free food parcels were circulated on social media.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said that the national voucher scheme for free school meals will be re-launched next week after the government faced urgent calls to bring back the programme.

Speaking to the Commons Education Select Committee, he said that he was ‘absolutely disgusted’ after seeing a picture of one of the food packages sent to a disabled mother of two.

He said: “All schools still have the option of doing locally procured vouchers if that is the route they want to do, but the national scheme will be available from next week.”

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the Commons: “I don’t think anybody in this House is happy with the disgraceful images that we’ve seen of the food parcels being offered.

“They’re appalling, they’re an insult to the families that have received them.”

He added: “It’s not good enough. You can’t assume households have other ingredients to make the lunches, and clearly the packages were totally and woefully inaccurate.”