Compass Group's education catering arm Chartwells has said an image of a free school meal bag that went viral on social media last night "falls short" of its specifications and that it will be investigating the matter.
A mother posted a photo on Twitter last night of her free school meals bag to feed one child for 10 days, consisting of two bananas, two snack portions of Soreen, one tin of Heinz beans, a loaf of bread, three yogurts, two potatoes, two carrots, three apples, a tomato, pasta and eight portions of cheese.
The image has been widely criticised and compared to free school meals vouchers, which are available up to the value of £15 per pupil per week, with footballer and child hunger campaigner Marcus Rashford describing it as "unacceptable".
Chartwells said the hampers were put together last week based on the cost of a free school meal allowance (£2.34 per pupil per day, or £11.70 a week), which has been increased by the Department for Education by £3.50 a week per pupil as of 8 January (£7 over two weeks) and hampers will be enhanced from later this week to reflect this.
It added that it has asked the parent who raised the complaint to confirm what school it is and is awaiting confirmation to investigate.
A spokesperson for Chartwells said: "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."
The Department for Education said on Twitter that it is also looking into the matter and said: "We have clear guidelines and standards for food parcels, which we expect to be followed. Parcels should be nutritious and contain a varied range of food."
The department is expected to make a further statement later this morning.
Image: Twitter @RoadsideMum