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Poor quality food sent to children on free meals

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Issue 2698
A picture taken by a primary school headteacher in Bristol of lunch packages for childre
A picture taken by a primary school headteacher in Bristol of lunch packages for childre (Pic: @overton66 on Twitter)

There was fury last week over the poor quality of food being sent to some children who receive free school meals.

Bristol primary school head teacher Peter Overton tweeted a picture of what was being sent to children from his school. 

It included a loaf of bread, a packet of low-quality butter, crisps, cheese, snacks and fruit—and was supposed to last a week.

Overton described the package as “shameful” adding that the school paid £11 to a contractor for each one.

It’s a disgrace that poor children are being given such meagre supplies. But some are receiving nothing at all.

One parent in Leeds told Socialist Worker their son usually receives free school meals but had received nothing since schools closed.

The council there says it is delivering packed lunches to children whose parents have registered to receive them.“I haven’t heard anything,” said the parent. “If you had to register for it, surely they would have told everyone?” And an NEU union member in London said the system for ensuring children are fed is in “chaos”.

The government claimed children on free school meals would receive food or vouchers when schools closed. It claimed to be looking out for the most vulnerable.

But once again, the claims don’t quite match the reality.

Library workers take action against unsafe conditions

Council workers in Tower Hamlets, east London, forced the closure of library hubs in the borough after bosses played fast and loose with safety measures.

Workers across seven “Idea Stores” in the borough—said they wouldn’t come back to work because bosses were ignoring health advice.

Matt, an idea store worker and Unison union rep, told Socialist Worker that workers felt “absolute anger and hatred at the bosses. 

“There’s a complete and utter contempt that they kept opening stores despite the threat to the health of the staff.” The bosses have even told workers they weren’t allowed to wear face masks, because “they didn’t work”.

Matt said, “Hand washing stations were installed in buildings—but without any hand fluid. 

“Computers weren’t being cleaned, and different people were using them every hour.

Frustrated by the lack of the action from the top, Idea Store workers took matters into their own hands.

On Monday around 60 workers signed a letter declaring that because the council hadn’t put in the minimum requirements for work, they wouldn’t be returning to Idea Stores the next day.

“They said to HR that they wouldn’t be coming back in because their buildings aren’t safe,” said Matt.

He added, “Now we have to fight to make sure that those of us that are fit, and want to help, have the equipment to do it at our own homes.

“We could be phoning vulnerable people, setting up story times online.

“We can do all that, but we’re not going to be told we can do them in unsafe buildings.”


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