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 images of food parcels provided by private firms under the government’s free school meals programme provoked a widespread outcry and forced one supplier to apologise.
Manchester United forward Rashford, 23, has become a powerful voice in the political discussion over the provision of food to pupils, using his Premier League status and personal experience 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 to correcting the issue with the food hampers and that a full review of the supply chain is taking place.”
Last year Rashford led a campaign to pressure the government into extending the provision of meals to include school holiday times, which it later did.
The latest issue around food parcels, provided during lockdown to children aged 4 to 7 and to those whose parents receive certain low income state benefits, came to light after users began posting images online of what they had received.
Johnson said he was grateful to Rashford for highlighting the issue and described some of the food parcels as “an insult to the families that have received them.”
One Twitter user posted a parcel she said was expected to last 10 days of lunches containing: a loaf of bread, two potatoes, two carrots, three apples, a tomato, some dried pasta, bananas, cheese, beans and other small snacks.
The firm who provided that parcel, Chartwells, said the supplies were actually intended to last for five days but apologised and said it would be refunding schools.
Opposition leader Keir Starmer dismissed Johnson’s assurances, saying that the contents of the disputed food parcel were similar to what was required under government guidance for a five-day parcel.
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