Harrogate MP's shock over free school meal packages as parents' complaints mount

Harrogate and Knaresborough's MP is asking questions about the standard of free school meals after an alarmed parent complained about how poor they were.

Wednesday, 13th January 2021, 9:42 am

In the first school week of the new lockdown pupils eligible for free school meals have been receiving packed lunches.

But MP Andrew Jones quickly started to hear concerns earlier this week over the adequacy of these packages, an issue which is now the subject of national media attention.

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Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones - “Where companies have failed to provide a proper service they need to be held to account. "

And, he says, it's time companies who had failed to provide a proper service were "held to account".

Mr Jones was contacted by a constituent in Knaresborough who told him that she had received two pre-packed sandwiches, two mini yoghurts, an apple, an orange and two potatoes to feed her son for five days.

The MP said: “This simply isn’t good enough. There are reports that the companies distributing this food have been paid £30 for a week’s food but you could buy what my constituent received for a few pounds.

"Fortunately my constituent can manage this week but that isn’t the point.”

“Surely it would have been better and cheaper to give parents a loaf of bread and the ingredients to make their own sandwiches rather than send supermarket pre-packs?

"It would have been more nutritious too. What has been sent seems to me to be completely inadequate.

"Whichever companies are being used to supply the meals need to buck their ideas up and do it pronto.”

Mr Jones attended a briefing with children’s minister, Vicky Ford, last night where he and other MP’s called for her to investigate the shortcomings as a matter of urgency.

He said: “Where companies have failed to provide a proper service they need to be held to account.

"Where they can’t provide adequate lunches they need to be replaced. This is a problem that needs to be gripped fast."

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