Free school meals: Newcastle MP queries Chartwells' apology

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image copyrightUK Parliament
image captionChi Onwurah said she raised the same issue with the firm last March

A company criticised for providing inadequate school meal parcels had apologised for the same issue during lockdown in March, an MP has revealed.

School meal provider Chartwells supplies food for poorer pupils while schools are closed.

When photos of some parcels' contents were publicised, the company apologised and agreed it had fallen short.

But Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah tweeted: "Once might be a mistake, twice is worse than carelessness."

Chartwells has been approached for comment.

Ms Onwurah shared on Twitter a letter she had received from the company last year.

She tweeted: "I would find @Chartwells_UK apology more believable had I not received an apology from them back in *March* for previous low quality hamper provision in #Newcastle."

image copyrightRoadside Mum
image caption"Public funds were charged £30. I'd have bought this for £5.22," Roadside Mum said

On Monday, a mother using the handle Roadside Mum tweeted a photo of a small selection of food she calculated had cost about £5, although it was supposed to be worth £30.

The post was widely retweeted and attracted the attention of footballer Marcus Rashford, who has been campaigning for extra support for poorer children during school holidays.

Food parcels are currently being sent to school children in England who would normally get free school meals.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said they would be offered vouchers instead from next week.

Labour MP Ms Onwurah said she raised the issue of inadequate food parcels with Chartwells at the beginning of the first lockdown in March.

At the time the firm replied that it regretted the meals supplied were not to its usual standards.

It blamed the "short notice" in being asked to provide hampers and said it had been "forced to used contingency suppliers".

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