Northumberland school drops food parcel plan after criticism from parents

A Northumberland school has abandoned plans to give food parcels instead of vouchers to families in need.

Wednesday, 20th January 2021, 7:00 am

James Calvert Spence College in Amble had considered introducing parcels for families entitled to free school meals.

However, the proposal came in for criticism from some parents and the school has reverted to its voucher scheme.

Neil Rodgers, executive headteacher, said: "In recent weeks we have successfully used the Northumberland HUGGG system for distributing vouchers to those families who are learning at home whilst entitled to a free school meal.

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Neil Rodgers, executive head at James Calvert Spence College in Amble. Picture by Jane Coltman

"We have now decided to continue using the system for the duration of the national lockdown.

"Initially we had looked into providing food parcels but, after careful consideration, we accept the flexibility of providing vouchers would be more appropriate for many families."

The decision has been welcomed by parent Suzanne Moore who was unhappy at the quality and choice of what was potentially being offered in a food parcel.

"I am happy – as will be every parent - that they have the vouchers back,” she said.

"The standard being offered in the food parcel was very poor and not what I would class as a decent meal.

"It’s not about being ungrateful for help, it’s about the fact when you get this type of food parcel and are having to still buy extra to actually make a meal - especially when parents are already having the extra worry of having to use more gas and electric with the children being at home.

"I can guarantee every family will be using so much more milk and toilet rolls, I know that may sound daft but it’s true and it really does add up to so much more than when your children are at school all day.

“And during this pandemic the last thing we want is for our children to be lacking a substantial meal that will actually keep their immune system up.”

The issue hit the national headlines last week when Prime Minister Boris Johnson described some of the meagre free school meal parcels handed out to children as ‘disgraceful’.

Footballer Marcus Rashford, who has been campaigning to end child food poverty in the UK, received assurances from Mr Johnson that there will be a full review of the supply chain.

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