British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday criticized the “disgraceful” free school meal parcels sent to U.K. families in need during the nationwide lockdown, and said he is working with the company that provided the meals to remedy the situation. His comments comes after Manchester United superstar Marcus Rashford shared photos of the meager food packages earlier this week.
Rashford, who has been fighting child hunger in the U.K. during the pandemic, on Monday highlighted the quality of meals that families were receiving. After a Twitter user posted a photo showing two carrots, a loaf of sliced bread, three apples, two bananas and a few other items — supplies they said were meant to feed a family for 10 days — the 23-year-old quote tweeted the picture, saying it was “unacceptable.”
In another post, Rashford said the meals were “just not good enough.”
“Then imagine we expect the children to engage in learning from home. Not to mention the parents who, at times, have to teach them who probably haven’t eaten at all so their children can…We MUST do better. This is 2021,” he wrote.
The tweets showing the meals received criticism online, prompting Chartwells, a free school meals firm, to apologize on Wednesday.
Rashford also told his Twitter followers on Wednesday that he had a conversation with the prime minister, who “assured” Rashford that he will look into “correcting the issue.” Johnson also tweeted that the company agreed to “reimburse those affected.”
“I totally agree with you Marcus Rashford, these food parcels do not meet the standards we set out and we have made it clear to the company involved that this is disgraceful,” he said.
Still, Rashford, who depended on the free school meals program as a child, urged an examination of the system as a whole.
“Our eyes are open. Now is the time for a full major review of the Free School Meal system,” he said.
According to the BBC, the parcels are supposed to contain food items that parents can use to prepare healthy lunches for five days, and children of all ages may be eligible if they live in households receiving income-related benefits.