Ladbaby has described photos of government food parcels given to families who qualify for free school meals as ‘heartbreaking’ and ‘unacceptable’ as he opens up about food poverty.
Catering company Chartwells UK had been contracted by the government to put together food boxes for impoverished families during the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown, instead of the previous £30 vouchers.
However, many parents complained on social media that the parcels were disproportionately small and shared pictures of the little food they had received.
The YouTube star – real name Mark Hoyle – and his wife Roxanne felt it was important to speak out after seeing Marcus Rashford tweet about the inadequate parcels.
Retweeting one of the footballer’s tweets, the pair added: ‘So sad and truly unacceptable,’ before sharing a link to the Trussell Trust’s Find a Foodbank page.
Speaking to Metro.co.uk, Mark added: ‘It’s just heartbreaking, isn’t it?
‘That’s why we do try our very best to raise as much awareness and money [as we can] for the Trussell Trust at Christmas, because it’s still so important. Now, more so than ever, it’s something we want to speak out about, more than just at Christmas.
‘That food parcel – it’s clear for everyone to see – it’s heartbreaking that that’s supposed to be enough food for a vulnerable child.’
Mark added that it’s important to him that people know where their local food bank is, and hopes he can raise awareness.
‘I feel like a lot of people’s circumstances are going to continue to change the longer we’re in this lockdown,’ he continued. ‘So it’s just about making sure people know where to turn if and when that time comes.’
He added of food banks: ‘They cater it to how many days that’s meant to last you and what you are walking away with is what’s suitable to make it through that period of time.
‘I think that’s the worrying thing about the photo that was shared online today – that doesn’t appear to have that same thought that’s gone into it, to make sure that it is right for that amount of time, and I think that’s what really needs to be thought about here.’
Praising Marcus’ efforts, the dad-of-two continued: ‘What Marcus is able to do, he’s able to make people aware of it. And if we can be part of spreading that message a little bit further with things like this, that’s what we hope to do. And hope the right people in the right places are able to look at it, see that something isn’t right, and address it in the appropriate way.’
Speaking directly to anyone who might need help, Mark then urged: ‘Don’t feel embarrassed about it. I think that’s the thing – it’s quite overwhelming, people feel embarrassed that they’ve had to go to [a foodbank] and they feel ashamed.’
‘If that’s the situation you’re in, there’s no shame in it,’ he continued. ‘Reach out to the Trussell Trust, or whatever your local food bank is [or] if it’s an independent one. Use their online search tool to find your local food bank, contact them and get the support you need.’
Other prominent figures, including food writer Jack Monroe, and Good Morning Britain stars Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid have also weighed in on the situation after seeing the photos on social media.
Piers and Susanna put together an alternative parcel, which cost just £15 to create, while Jack said: ‘It’s just a disgrace to be honest, I’ve literally been up all night talking to parents in my DMs on Twitter, hundreds of them who’ve been sending me similar pictures saying I can’t feed my kids with this Jack, what can I do?
‘I’m like, make noise about it, get something different, ask your schools to go back to the voucher system because two measly slices of cheese, three pieces of ham and a couple pieces of fruit and sweet potatoes is not enough for one child for five days worth of food.’
Chartwells UK has since responded to the controversy and told Metro.co.uk it was waiting to hear back from the parent who shared the original image to confirm that they were the supplier.
A spokesperson for the firm said in a statement: ‘We take our responsibility to provide children with access to nutritious food very seriously. We have worked hard to produce food hampers at incredibly short notice during these challenging times.
‘Our hampers follow the DofE specifications and contain a variety of ingredients to support families in providing meals throughout the week. In the majority of instances, we have received positive feedback.
‘In this instance, the image on Twitter falls short of our hamper specification and we are keen to investigate with the relevant school so we can address any operational issues that may have arisen.’
They later added: ‘We have had time to investigate the picture circulated on Twitter. For clarity this shows five days of free school lunches (not 10 days) and the charge for food, packing and distribution was actually £10.50 and not £30 as suggested.
‘However, in our efforts to provide thousands of food parcels a week at extremely short notice we are very sorry the quantity has fallen short in this instance.’
Trussell Trust support information
Credit: Original article published here.