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These pictures reveal the stark difference in the quality of free school meal parcels in Wales and Tory-run England.

Shocking pictures of hampers delivered to English families have sparked a wave of criticism, with parents expected to feed their children on just over £5 of food.

By contrast, parents in Wales have branded equivalent packages as "outstanding", voicing their shock over what is happening across the border, Wales Online reports.

An investigation has been launched in England after images shared online showed "woefully inadequate" free school meal parcels sent to families.

One mum of three described how the food parcels she received from Caerphilly council have regularly contained fresh fruit and vegetables throughout the pandemic.

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

A shocking picture shared on Twitter shows a '£30' food parcel in England
(Image: @RoadsideMum / SWNS.COM)

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She said: "The food hamper we have had delivered in Wales since the beginning of the pandemic had been outstanding.

"I was quite shocked to see what England are receiving. It started with five micro meals, five fruit plus salad, yoghurt and desserts for each child.

"In December, we had waffles, chips, meat, fruit, vegetables, the usual five meals with salad and fruit per child plus a cracker and a selection box.

"Currently we are receiving 10 day hampers which include frozen veg, fresh veg, fresh salad, fresh potatoes, five frozen meals, frozen chips, chicken nuggets, block of cheese, five frozen desserts, fresh fruit, fish fingers and rice. A huge difference."

A food package provided in Caerphilly, which a mum-of-three branded 'excellent'
(Image: Wales Online WS)

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In England, one mum criticised the free school meals scheme after she claimed she was sent just a few pounds worth of food to feed her children for 10 days.

It was claimed the image of a £30 parcel contained just over £5 worth of food.

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.

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

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

Footballer and campaigner Marcus Rashford tweeted another picture and wrote: "3 days of food for 1 family… Just not good enough.

A food parcel that has been handed out to families in Bridgend
(Image: Wales Online WS)

"Then imagine we expect the children to engage in learning from home.

"Not to mention the parents who, at times, have to teach them who probably haven't eaten at all so their children can… We MUST do better."

England children's Minister Vicky Ford said she would be "urgently" look into the matter.

The Department for Education wrote on Twitter: "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."

Chartwells, the company which the mum in England said provided the parcel, said it will investigate.

An example of a food hamper provided by Caerphilly council
(Image: Wales Online WS)

It said: "Thank you for bringing this to our attention. This does not reflect the specification of one of our hampers."

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer described the situation as "a disgrace".

He 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."

Free school meals have been provided in Wales including after the closure of schools in March and through the summer holidays.

There has been some praise for the food hampers that are being handed out through schemes in some parts of Wales.

Mum Aimee Stott, from Bridgend, has two sons aged six and eight. They receive a box every week and it even includes a recipe guide.

She said: "It also comes with a great handy recipe guide to tell you how to make the best of what you have got.

"I was horrified to see alternatives in other parts of the UK, and feel exceptionally grateful right now we are under the Welsh Government."

Parents of children who would normally qualify for free school meals have been given the option of food parcels or vouchers as schools close for remote learning.

In some areas of Wales, such as Rhondda Cynon Taf, those eligible for free school meals receive a BACS payment from their local council rather than a packed lunch or hamper.

Pictures show the contrast between packages given to families in Wales (left) and England (right)

A spokeswoman for Caerphilly county council said: "The service, coordinated by the council’s Catering Team, sees eligible families receive a nutritionally balanced meal box delivered to their home address each fortnight, whilst schools are closed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

"As well as frozen meals and staple items, the boxes also include fresh produce such as bread, milk and vegetables. The team has worked with local suppliers to develop the meal boxes and tailored menus to cater for a range of dietary requirements."

Staff from across the council have been redeployed to support the service and ensure it is delivered.

In Cardiff, the council provides a downloadable voucher worth £15 per child per week, which can be spent in seven different supermarkets whilst schools are closed due to Covid-19 and during school holidays.

A spokeswoman said: "This allows them the flexibility to purchase their child’s food from where they choose.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, our dedicated team have worked hard to make sure that more than 13,000 families with children eligible for free school meals, continue to receive vital meal provision.

"This has included the development of new a BACS payment system, a new supermarket voucher scheme and at the beginning of lockdown the successful delivery of 45,000 packed lunches.”

In September, Wales Education Minister Kirsty Williams said at least £420,000 was being made available immediately to support local authorities help deliver  free meals to children who can't make it to school.