CAMPAIGNERS from south Essex have slammed “offensively meagre scraps” being handed to parents for free school meals.

Chef Jack Monroe claimed families suffering financially are continuing to be demonised after photos were shared on Twitter of the packages of food some parents had received from the Government.

Many parents have claimed the parcels to be inadequate, with one unnamed mother, going by the name of “Roadside Mum”, saying she was sent just a few pounds worth of food to last ten days (pictured above).

The Government has also come under fire from Southend campaign group All Rise Collective, which last year held demonstrations outside Tory MP Sir David Amess’s office calling on the Government to give more support for disadvantaged children.

Families eligible for free school meals have the option of food parcels while schools are shut because of the third national lockdown in England.

The voucher scheme for families will “shortly be reopened”

The Government insists it is looking into the issue following numerous complaints and said the contents of some of the food parcels were “unacceptable”.

South Essex resident Jasmine Cummins wrote on Facebook: “We had a loaf of bread, five slices of chicken, five slices of cheese and five packets of crisps and few packets of three-in-pack biscuits.”

A spokesman for All Rise Collective said: “We are both saddened and disgusted that, due to the actions of our neglectful Government, it is once again down to the community to fill the void the government should be serving whilst their rich friends are profiteering off poverty and misfortune.

“The Government has had every opportunity to show some humanity and yet it has failed to at every juncture. This utter failure to support families who qualify for free school has ensured that they are robbed of dignity and autonomy.

“Where is the choice and freedom? We run a bi-weekly non-referral community care bank at St Marks Centre which provides free toiletries to whoever needs them, and we will also be providing small food packages alongside this service in attempt to support local families during this challenging time.

“However, the Government needs to stop relying on mutual aid, charities and small businesses to do their jobs for them and start protecting our most vulnerable.”

Author and chef Jack Monroe, from Southend, who has written cookbooks about cooking on a budget, said: “I’ve been sent lots of photos of the food parcels that have replaced the £30 vouchers and asked what I would do with them.

“I’m replying with advice privately because to do so publicly would look like justifying these ill-thought through, offensively meagre scraps.

“Ask people what their needs are, respond accordingly. Don’t be a Marie Antoinette or worse, a sneering Scrooge. People in difficult situations are people, no less ‘deserving’ of a good meal than anyone else.”

The chef added people “deserve better” and that it’s “always the people who can afford the least that are asked to bear the biggest burden.”

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We’re aware of those images on social media, and it is clear that the contents of those food parcels are completely unacceptable.

The Department for Education is looking into this urgently and is speaking to the company responsible and they will be making it clear that boxes like this should not be given to families.”