A shocking picture shared on Twitter sparked outrage over Free School Meals (Image: @RoadsideMum / SWNS.COM)

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Under-fire Free School Meals provider Chartwells has apologised after images of "disgraceful" food parcels sent to families sparked widespread anger.

One mother posted an image of a package she had received during the lockdown which was estimated to contain just over £5 worth of food.

Labour leader Keir Starmer led a chorus of criticism after the picture was shared, branding it a "disgrace", and footballer Marcus Rashford voiced his shock.

The company admitted that quantity had fallen short "in this instance".

A spokesperson for Chartwells said: "We have had time to investigate the picture circulated on Twitter.

Have you received a similar food parcel? Let us know by emailing pictures to [email protected]

Footballer and campaigner Marcus Rashford voiced his dismay after seeing the image
(Image: PA)

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"For clarity this shows five days of free school lunches (not 10 days) and the charge for food, packing and distribution was actually £10.50 and not £30 as suggested.

"However, 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."

They added: "We would like to thank Marcus Rashford and the Permanent Under Secretary of State for Children and Families, Vicky Ford, for their collaboration as we navigate these difficult times."

Posting the image on Twitter, user Roadside Mum said: "2 days jacket potato with beans, 8 single cheese sandwiches, 2 days carrots, 3 days apples, 2 days soreen, 3 days frubes.

The image was shared by a mum, who said she would struggle to feed her family
(Image: @RoadsideMum / SWNS.COM)

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"Spare pasta & tomato. Will need mayo for pasta salad.

"Issued instead of £30 vouchers. I could do more with £30 to be honest."

Labour leader Mr Starmer posted: tweeted: "The images appearing online of woefully inadequate free school meal parcels are a disgrace.

"Where is the money going?

"This needs sorting immediately so families don't go hungry through lockdown."

Children's Minister Vicky Ford is investigating, Downing Street said

Downing Street has said the contents of some free school meal food parcels sent to families are "completely unacceptable" and that the Government is urgently looking into the issue.

It came as the Government faced calls to urgently roll out its national free school meal voucher scheme after images shared on social media showed poor quality and low value packages sent to families during the lockdown.

Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford – who has been behind a drive to get free school meals to children who need them – has called for the system to be fixed "quickly".

The Prime Minister's official spokesman told a Westminster briefing: "We're aware of those images circulating on social media, and it is clear that the contents of those food parcels are completely unacceptable.

"The Department for Education is looking into this urgently and the minister for children, Vicky Ford, is speaking to the company responsible and they will be making it clear that boxes like this should not be given to families."