South east London mums have shared their shock and disappointment at receiving meagre food parcels in place of free school meals.

It came as the Government faced calls to urgently roll out its voucher scheme after images shared on social media showed poor quality and low value packages sent out to families with children on free school meals across the country during lockdown. 

MPs, paediatrics and sector leaders have called for a review, after one mother posted an image of a £30 parcel estimated to contain just over £5 worth of food.

Two mothers from south east London sent News Shopper pictures of their parcels, both meant to contain £15 worth of produce, enough to provide five lunches.

Lisa – Upper Abbeywood

News Shopper:

Lisa, 52, felt "insulted" when she received the above parcel to feed her 14-year-old son for the week. 

The packet of pasta was already open. Even so, no ingredients were included for a sauce. 

She said: "I have emailed the school to ask for the details for who provided us with this food parcel, as I think they are making a lot of money from this and have really insulted us parents. 

"I have had a voucher before. The food I bought was totally different from this.

"We dont want loads, but they could have made more use of what they provided for a 14 year-old.

"I won't want another one, put it that way."

Lisa Thomas - Sidcup

News Shopper:

Lisa Thomas, 43, received the package above to feed her ten-year-old daughter for the week. 

Again, it consisted of loose pasta, a few pieces of basic fruit and veg, a few snacks, bread, cheese and beans. 

The furloughed single mother hoped the school dinner 'hamper' would "take some pressure off."

She said: "I was disgusted and disappointed. Very disappointed.

"A lot of people have been saying its been 'outsourced' to a private company and said company is making alot of money from it as everyone's packages have been the same or worse."

Downing Street has since said the contents of some parcels sent to families are "completely unacceptable" and that the Government is urgently looking into the issue.

Department for Education (DfE) guidance says schools should work with their school catering team or food provider to provide food parcels to eligible free school meal children at home during the lockdown.

The guidance, updated on Friday, adds that schools can also provide meals by providing vouchers for a local shop or supermarket, or by using the DfE's national voucher scheme, "which will reopen shortly".

A head teachers' union said schools have been left having to "piece together" food provision for pupils in the absence of a national supermarket voucher scheme for children eligible for free school meals.

Chartwells, the education food service company which has provided some of the parcels, has said it is "keen to investigate" the food parcel with the relevant school to address any potential operational issues.

Footballer and campaigner Marcus Rashford tweeted another picture and wrote: "3 days of food for 1 family... 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."

Rashford, who said he had reached out to Chartwells, tweeted that the company had clarified that they were not the exclusive supplier of free school meals across the UK.

He said he looked forward to hearing the outcome of a meeting between the DfE and Chartwells, adding: "Something is going wrong and we need to fix it, quickly!"