Peterborough mum’s anger at £15 food parcel for son during lockdown

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The mother of a boy on free school meals has hit out at the £15 weekly food parcel he is receiving during lockdown.

The parent, who did not wish to be named, said the package she collected from the school’s premises were inadequate and left him “starving”.

The youngster has autism, epilepsy and cerebral palsy, and during the pre-Christmas lockdown he was receiving a voucher which could be spent in major supermarkets.

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Replacements for free school meals for pupils have to learn at home has made national attention in recent days after parents posted photos of food parcels which did not appear to be worth the money spent on them.

A £15 food parcel given to a Peterborough parent to last a weekA £15 food parcel given to a Peterborough parent to last a week
A £15 food parcel given to a Peterborough parent to last a week

This has prompted criticism from school meal activist and Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford, as well as government ministers who have promised to investigate.

One parent the Peterborough Telegraph spoke to shared a photo of a £15 food package which included: three carrots, two packets of cheese, a loaf of bread, eggs, a tin of fish, a tin of baked beans and other small items such as apples and oranges.

She said: “Those two little packets of cheese won’t fill a sandwich. That’s not going to fill my son up. When we were getting school vouchers in December we were getting loads more.

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“We had a voucher code and could spend it at Aldi, Sainsbury’s or Tesco where you could get loads for your money.

“He’s starving. Luckily I have food in my house for him. My niece is getting vouchers but some schools are getting parcels. It doesn’t make sense.

“I asked the school why we’re not getting food vouchers and they said it’s because they’re providing school parcels. But you’re not getting £15 worth of food.”

Another parent told the Peterborough Telegraph that her son with severe sensory issues, who attends the same school, has just returned to the classroom but is allegedly being offered hot meals which he will not eat.

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This is because he has severe sensory issues and can’t cope with food touching each other which causes him to have a meltdown.

The parent said when this was explained to the school she was allegedly told he would not receive any food.

“I said ‘you’re getting £15 a week for his meals, but where is that going?’,” she said.

“It’s silly we’re having to go to food banks or rely on charities to help when the funds are sitting there. For £15 I could get loads.”

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Peterborough City Council received nearly £750,000 from the Government to spend on £15 food vouchers for children on free school meals, and other priority groups, but this only covered the Christmas holidays and February half-term.

Service director for education Jonathan Lewis said: “Schools in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough are working extremely hard to provide appropriate food parcels to eligible children who are studying at home whilst also ensuring children in school are provided with their meals.

“At this stage schools have received very limited funds from the Department for Education (DfE) to provide food parcels, but they remain committed to ensuring children receive high-quality food that is in line with the recent guidance issued by the DfE.

“Food vouchers were announced for schools late last week and many schools are considering moving their provision over to this system.

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“The Government national voucher scheme will not be available until next week at the earliest. We have encouraged schools to communicate with parents over their free school meal.”

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