LONDON – British soccer player Marcus Rashford said he had received assurances from Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday that problems with the meagre food parcels being offered to young English schoolchildren would be resolved.
The government was criticised on Tuesday after shared imagesof food parcels provided by private firms under the government’sfree school meals programme provoked a widespread outcry andforced one supplier to apologise.
Manchester United forward Rashford, 23, has become apowerful voice in the political discussion over the provision offood to pupils, using his Premier League status and personalexperience of hunger as a child to raise awareness.
“Just had a good conversation with the Prime Minister,”Rashford tweeted. “He has assured me that he is committed tocorrecting the issue with the food hampers and that a fullreview of the supply chain is taking place.”
Last year Rashford led a campaign to pressure the governmentinto extending the provision of meals to include school holidaytimes, which it later did.
The latest issue around food parcels, provided duringlockdown to children aged 4 to 7 and to those whose parentsreceive certain low income state benefits, came to light afterusers began posting images online of what they had received.
Johnson said he was grateful to Rashford for highlightingthe issue and described some of the food parcels as “an insultto the families that have received them.”
One Twitter user posted a parcel she said was expected tolast 10 days of lunches containing: a loaf of bread, twopotatoes, two carrots, three apples, a tomato, some dried pasta,bananas, cheese, beans and other small snacks.
The firm who provided that parcel, Chartwells, said thesupplies were actually intended to last for five days butapologised and said it would be refunding schools.
Opposition leader Keir Starmer dismissed Johnson’sassurances, saying that the contents of the disputed food parcelwere similar to what was required under government guidance fora five-day parcel.(Reporting by William James; editing by Estelle Shirbon)