"It's only their lunch" - Tory MP defends pitiful free school meals parcels
"It's enough for lunches for a child for a week... Usually."
A Conservative MP has defended the free school meals packages that have been sent to parents in recent days following the closure of schools under new lockdown rules.
A viral tweet from @RoadsideMum singlehandedly brought the matter to the centre of political discourse. After listing the ingredients she had received in the parcel, she wrote: "Issued instead of £30 vouchers. I could do more with £30 to be honest."
This prompted more parents to voice their concerns, and of course for Marcus Rashford and Jack Monroe, who have used their voice to support the public in this ongoing fight, to speak up.
It has also been highlighted that Chartwells UK, the catering company that supplies the food parcels, are providing strikingly different meals to private schools through their sister company, Chartwells Independent.
Speaking to Channel 4 on Tuesday night, Tory MP for Mid Derbyshire Pauline Latham has defended the government's policy on free school meals, saying "it's only their lunch."
"The schools make the decision," she said. "It isn't the government. The schools decide whether they want to use local vouchers with a local provider. There are some national ones coming online any minute now. We don't give out cash as such."
She continued: "The whole point of this is to give a balanced meal for the children.
"It's only their lunch, it's not all meals every day. It's enough for lunches for a child for a week... Usually."
Labour's Darren Jones, also on the panel, made the point that we should be looking at tackling the causes of child poverty, and that child poverty is unacceptable.
When the host, Jon Snow, asked Latham whether she agreed that child poverty was unacceptable, she did not reply with the word, "yes", but said: "This is a particularly difficult situation at the moment. Clearly, due to the pandemic, many people have unfortunately lost their jobs and are finding it very difficult to manage at the moment."
She then reiterated that the food parcels are to ensure that children get a balanced meal every day of the week, because of course poor people can't be trusted to spend money properly.
She repeated her first point: "It is up to the schools to make that decision, they can give them the voucher. They can choose how the food gets to the pupils."
Regardless, parents have no say in the schools' decisions, and many children are therefore having to eat for a week from this much food. You make your own mind up.
#FreeSchoolMeals bag for 10 days:
2 days jacket potato with beans
8 single cheese sandwiches
2 days carrots
3 days apples
2 days soreen
3 days frubes
Spare pasta & tomato. Will need mayo for pasta salad.
Issued instead of £30 vouchers. I could do more with £30 to be honest. pic.twitter.com/87LGUTHXEu
— Roadside Mum (@RoadsideMum) January 11, 2021
Watch the full Channel 4 interview here.