A free school meal provider said it will ‘refund costs’ following an online storm over inadequate lunches
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A company providing free school meals to children has said it will refund costs after a massive backlash over inadequate supplies took off on social media.
Chartwells, which is part of Man Utd striker Marcus Rashford's child food poverty task force, said costs would be refunded "where our parcels have not met our usual high standards".
It followed pictures of meagre lunches being shared today by outraged parents whose children are entitled to free school meals.
One reported her daughter asking if her school had put on her diet due to the scarcity of the food available.
What do you think of the images of the free school meals parcels? Let us know in the comments below
Chartwells said it wasn't behind all the pictures of meagre school meals but apologised where it fell short
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Chartwells isn't behind all the pictures that circulated online in today's Twitter storm over free meals, but it nonetheless apologised for any shortfall.
It said in a previous statement: "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."
Besides providing refunds, the food supplier said it would contact "every school" to pin down where any shortages may have occurred and "we will apologise to anyone affected".
It will also make sure that its 10-day food hampers reflect the government's additional £3.50 funding allocation as of next Monday and ensure "that every penny goes into the provision of the food".
"Chartwells is committed to continuing to work with all stakeholders to ensure the best possible provision for children in schools," the statement reads.
A mum claimed this is what her daughter, 9, got for two weeks
The Department for Education, which is understood to have met with Chartswell following the backlash this afternoon, responded to one of the pictures saying : "We are looking into this. 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."
Pictures of just a few items of food supposed to last a whole week if not ten days were widely criticised by prominent activists, including MBE Rashford, who branded such provision "unacceptable".
Rashford, who in June got the government to U-turn on its decision to stop its free school meals voucher system during the summer holidays, said communication had been one of the underlying causes of inadequate service.
"We MUST do better" , he said on Twitter.
"Children shouldn’t be going hungry on the basis that we aren’t communicating or being transparent with plans. That is unacceptable."
While Chelmsford MP Vicky Ford said: "The photos being shared on social media last night and today are completely unacceptable and do not reflect the high standard of free school meals we expect to be sent to children."
She said she had spoken to Chartswell's CEO who had assured her "immediate action" would be taken to stop the supply of the "poor-quality parcels".