FREE SCHOOL MEALS: Council leader condemns ‘appalling’ food parcels
The leader of Leeds City Council has branded images of paltry food parcels for children, which have circulated online, as “appalling” and “unacceptable”.
Furious parents from across the country have demanded answers after receiving small packages of ingredients and snacks supposedly meant to help keep their kids fed for a week.
Chartwells, the company responsible for the packages, apologised on Wednesday while the Prime Minister said they were “an insult” to the families who’d received them.
Children who would have been entitled to a free school dinner were meant to benefit from the packages, which were supposed to have £30 worth of food in them to cover five days worth of meals.
Speaking at a virtual meeting on Wednesday, Leeds’ council leader Judith Blake said: “I hope every single councillor will join me in condemning the appalling situation where some young people have received absolutely appalling food packages through the post, trying to substitute the free school meal they’d have received.
“It’s completely and utterly unacceptable.”
Coun Blake praised the local authority’s own in-house school meals team and urged any school “struggling to provide adequate food” to get in touch with the council for help.
In an update on Leeds’ response to the latest coronavirus developments, the council leader also revealed that 55,000 people across the city have now been vaccinated against the virus.
The elderly, frontline health workers and others from the most vulnerable groups have benefited from the jab.
Coun Blake was also critical of the government’s “centralised” approach to tackling the pandemic, saying it was “vital” that councils were involved in the frontline response.
She added: “They must take seriously all the requests we’ve made over the last 10 months to involve local government.
“I think we’d have been in a much better place if they’d involved us in so many areas of response to this pandemic.
“They need to work with us hand in glove to make sure we roll out the vaccine where it needs to be and so we can protect the most vulnerable.
“It’s our local knowledge and our ability to deliver that has helped us over the last few months.”
Words: David Spereall, Local Democracy Reporter
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