Living up to their status of holding utter disregard for large sections of society they claim to support, many of whom being young children, the government’s recent solution to combat the struggle faced by families across the country in adequately feeding themselves has come under vast scrutiny in recent weeks. Images penetrating social media depicted severely inadequate food parcels being sent to families who register for free school meals, evidently lacking both in quality and quantity, much akin to the decision-making skills of our current leaders. According to the Department for Education, run by arguably the most inept minister to hold the position (U-turn supreme Gavin Williamson), food parcels should “be nutritious and contain a varied range of food”, a statement in undeniable contrast with the provided parcels. A shameful encapsulation of the lacklustre content of said aid was highlighted by parents having to spend their personal rent money on further food for their children, with one parcel containing two potatoes, one onion, two peppers, a satsuma, a tomato, a carrot, small tub of tuna mayo and a plastic bag of grated cheese deemed appropriate food for one 12-year-old girl’s entire week. Other parcels contained frozen bagels nine months out of date, whilst nearly all lacked multiple fresh food items. The Prime Minister labelled the whole fiasco as “appalling” and an “insult to families”, criticising the private catering companies, which his own government awarded contracts to, for their shameful cutting of corners and prioritising of profit over public duty, a practice which has left certain children undernourished with their parents unable to afford further supplement.
Leader of the opposition Sir Keir Starmer helpfully reminded his opposite that parcels delivered differed little from current government guidelines on the subject, with the only discernible difference from the Department of Education’s recommendation being “a tin of sweetcorn, a packet of ham and a bottle of milk”. Unfortunately, despite the parcels undeniably revealing a nonchalant, to put it lightly, attitude from the government to many struggling families, it comes as little surprise to an onlooking public who have grown depressingly accustom to the routine of indecision, crisis, followed by meagre resolution. Johnson emphasised his gratitude to Marcus Rashford in highlighting the issue and holding the government to account, with the Manchester United forward playing a key role in publicising the ineffective policy enaction regarding free school meals. Rashford proposed to meet with the private company at fault, Chartwells, upon sharing multiple social media posts by unsatisfied recipients, ultimately highlighting that they were “not good enough” as a response to child hunger and that “we must do better”. This post was followed shortly after with a Downing Street condemnation of the parcels, a shining example of exclusively acting in absolute hindsight.
Rashford has become a major voice on the issue over the past year, with it becoming increasingly important over lockdown periods when children cannot access school facilities. Being raised himself on free school meals, he understands the critical role they play in aiding those in society who need it most, with his End Child Food Poverty alliance calling for a comprehensive and in depth review of the free school meals system in light of the recent government failure. Review or not, it becomes blindingly obvious that yet again the government has failed to deliver on their promises to help those who cannot afford to feed their children, with Starmer’s illustration “families come last under this government, whether it’s exams, free school meals or childcare” sadly a reality of present.
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