Chartwells free school meals: Who owns provider of £30 food boxes?

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Catering company Chartwells has been severely criticized following pictures uploaded to social media of the measly and depressing food parcels they have delivered to children on the Free School Meals scheme. Children on the scheme are entitled to £30 per week while schools are closed for the third lockdown in England. But images on social media show this £30 is being poorly used.

Anonymous Twitter user, @Roadsidemum, shared a picture on Twitter of her child’s free school meal hamper.

Alongside a picture of food items, she wrote: “Issued instead of £30 vouchers. I could do more with £30 to be honest.

“Public funds were charged £30. I’d have bought this for £5.22. The private company who has the free school meals contract made a good profit here.”

The picture, which has caused several others to post their own pathetic food parcels on social media, shows two jacket potatoes, one can of beans, eight slices of cheese, a single loaf of bread, two carrots, two small Soreen loaves, three Frubes, a small portion of pasta and a single tomato – all to feed one child for ten days.

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One picture posted by another recipient showed a single pepper cut into a third, as opposed to just giving the family a whole pepper.

Other pictures showed what can only be described as scraps of food in coin bags and half a tomato wrapped in cling film.

The images caused widespread anger on social media, with many asking why the Government was outsourcing the service and who had taken the extra money not spent on feeding vulnerable children.

The food parcel pictured in the woman’s tweet is now under investigation by Chartwells.

Footballer and campaigner Marcus Rashford, who has been instrumental in pushing the Government to provide free school meals to those eligible over the holiday periods, said: “If families are entitled to £30 worth of food, why is there delivery only equating to just over £5?! 1 child or 3, this what they are receiving? Unacceptable.”

The Department of Education said: “We are looking into this. We have clear guidelines and standards for food parcels, which we expect to be followed.

“Parcels should be nutritious and contain a varied range of food.”

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What is Chartwells? Who owns Chartwells?

Chartwells is one of several companies the Government has outsourced the task to.

The firm is owned by Compass Group, the world’s largest private catering company which works across 45 countries and employs some 600,000 people.

According to City AM, Chartwells made an operating profit of £561 million in 2020.

On the Compass Group website, the company says of Chartwells: “Our education catering and food services team are proud to serve millions of nutritious, fun and tasty meals to students in schools, academies, colleges and universities across England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland.

“On top of catering for students we also dish up great tasting meals to a host of educators across both the public and private sectors.

“We also provide the vital support services that are needed for education staff to perform to the best of their ability in their roles.” has contact Chartwells for comment.

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