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And the extracted bad reporting continues...

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Title should read ‘exaggerated’

I know I’m banging on and on and on, but the blooming picture that Roadside Mum lied about and said it was for ten days (when it was for five days and was only about 10% less than what most schools would legitimately give out) has turned into a TEN day food parcel FOR A FAMILY (see Jack Monroe on this)  

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-55641740

Things is, plenty of folk will believe this rubbish. I feel sorry for the schools that will be getting grief that their food parcels not being good enough. 

Post edited at 00:18
 Timmd 14 Jan 2021
In reply to mick taylor:

It's not so great for 5 days as well, when I think what I used to eat, no greens are in the selection, and one tomato won't go far in sandwiches.

Post edited at 01:29
In reply to mick taylor:

That'll be why Bunter said it was disgraceful, and the company involved have apologised and said they would make things better...?

I've not seen schools getting grief. I've seen Bunter and Compass getting grief.

And the primary complaint is them allegedly charging £30 for this, and going to a chum of Cameron's.

Post edited at 01:38
In reply to captain paranoia:

> And the primary complaint is them allegedly charging £30 for this, and going to a chum of Cameron's.

And the primary complaint was based on nonsense. It was a weeks supply, £15. But that seems to pass lots of people by. A rip off, but not as big as people think. A standard delivery from a school wouldn’t be much better and I was glad the BBC pointed this out last night. 
One thing I genuinely don’t know is: was Chartwells contracted by the govt or by individual LAs ?  I can name many of the suppliers round here, for instance MetroFresh which do have a better approach to these matters. 

In reply to Timmd:

It’s not ideal but contains slightly under the recommended calories (and I was erring in the side of caution when I did the calorie count), and is nutritious. 
I sense many parents expect to see the contents to make 5 different cooked lunches: it would need to contain such a vast array of small portions of gray food it would be very hard to pull off. Yes, £15 weekly voucher would overcome this and the parents can buy miles more than a food parcel and miles more than they would get at school (but possibly at the expense of the school getting the cash and this impacting their cashflow and ability to pay wages).

I will do some more digging, but the vouchers iver school holidays would not have impacted on schooled getting the FSM cash, don’t know how this would work now. 

In reply to captain paranoia:

Forgot to say, I know of one school locally that opted for Grab Bags and received formal complaints because parents wanted the vouchers because they could get more food. Not an unreasonable view. I was stuck in the middle of this and ended up siding the headteacher as their decision was based on keeping contact with vulnerable children and they decided this was more important.  I also guess it helped with their cash flow and gave kitchen staff something to do (genuinely don’t know of furlough was an option).

Oh, and Bunter talks shite and likes being popular so he needs to say this so of course he was going to agree. 

Post edited at 09:27
 Offwidth 14 Jan 2021
In reply to mick taylor:

I appreciate your concerns about exaggerating Mick but surely that some parcels that a company was paid £15 for and looks to be worth less than £5 and not particularly nutritionally well balanced  is what most people are upset about. I was never under the impression that it was food for a family (how could it be.... the service was per child and  families come in different shapes and sizes?). The main highlighted company has apologised to Rashford and the government. If your local experience is good that is how it should be but it's not relevant to the problems reported in the news.

Food poverty is a massive issue in the UK at present as is the tory chumocracy where private providers make large profits for substandard services based on faulty tendering... the combination of both was always going to get some well meaning people a little over excited.

 timjones 14 Jan 2021
In reply to mick taylor:

I'm not sure it is deliberately exaggerated so much as an outraged game of chinee whispers with no adjudicator.

I've seen many different claims about how many children it is for and how long it is supposed to last. People don't bother to check the facts when they spot something on social media that plays to their prejudices and sadly the media are far to willing to report on tweets and FB posts without doing some basic research ;(

In reply to Offwidth:

> Food poverty is a massive issue in the UK at present as is the tory chumocracy

Bunter was crowing at PMQs yesterday about how brilliant the Tories were for starting the FSM scheme. But avoiding the reason they had to: increased child poverty under their governments.

In reply to timjones:

Fair point. 

In reply to mick taylor:

Worth mentioning in the "I could buy that for £X" arguments that it's not just the cost of the food.  The staff who work out who is going to get it, source it, package it, then deliver it all need to be paid too.  Of course that detracts from the social media buzz.

Let's not also forget that many of those staff work in schools and have been dealing with crisis management mode for the best part of a year.  

In reply to mick taylor:

> only about 10% less than what most schools would legitimately give out

So, just a little bit of malnutrition is fine?  

I can tell that you're invested in this, and in correcting the 10 v's 5 days, lunches v's all the meals inaccuracies, but if it's not even reaching the levels that a school meal (with its overheads of cooking and serving the food, and clearing up after) would, then there's a problem.

Can we agree on that?

In reply to Bobling:

Except that the "I could buy that for £X" arguments include the ones observing that it's £11 tops  of food at Waitrose, meaning that - even without economies of scale - you're allowing £4 per package on the plan/source/pack/deliver.  Which sounds pretty fair.  But there are efficiencies of scale and the stuff in the pictures wasn't posh food from Waitrose.  And that rather suggests that someone's skimming a profit at the expense of under-provided-for kids.  That sort of thing can annoy people

In reply to Bobling:

Totally agree. In one of my other rants I did a basic cost breakdown of how much it might costs to organise and deliver 25 food parcels and reckon nearly half (of £15) would be spent on running costs (which include keeping people in jobs) which I think is a big consideration especially when balancing an other argument: give the money to Tesco’s. 
More complex than many folk think. 

 whenry 10:08 Fri
In reply to mick taylor:

> One thing I genuinely don’t know is: was Chartwells contracted by the govt or by individual LAs ?  I can name many of the suppliers round here, for instance MetroFresh which do have a better approach to these matters. 

I believe that in maintained schools, local authorities run the contract for school catering. Academies organise their own catering, either in-house or outsourcing it. It's definitely not central government.

In reply to Niall_H:

> So, just a little bit of malnutrition is fine?  

 

Cheap, you are better than that.

> I can tell that you're invested in this, and in correcting the 10 v's 5 days, lunches v's all the meals inaccuracies, but if it's not even reaching the levels that a school meal (with its overheads of cooking and serving the food, and clearing up after) would, then there's a problem.

> Can we agree on that?

Yes. But what I think many folk don’t get is that amount of food isn’t far off what a school food parcel and/or packed lunch would contain.

Here’s a thought: strikes me that large parts (most?) of UK appears OK with FSM issue during recent lockdown with excellent examples from Livwvrpool (sorted their own vouchers with supermarkets ), Leeds (big food parcels), loads in Wales . It’s is Schools and LAs have agreements with their contractors (and not the government). So if many areas have done well (interestingly often areas of high poverty) then surely schools/LAs need to look at their own systems? They have a choice between food parcels, local vouchers and national voucher system.  And this is an issue for me because my gut instinct is not to ‘blame schools/LAs - they’ve had enough to do). I sense they often prefer the food parcel system for reasons outlined elsewhere - income, jobs, contact with child. But this means they may not be able to spend anywhere near the £15 on food (until lots more cash given which I am all in favour of).

BTW, glad Rashford and co are calling for a complete review, but hope it focuses on wider inequalities government policy and not just food poverty

In reply to Bobling:

They are not going in to a supermarket to buy things then adding their costs on top. How do you think the supermarkets themselves cover their costs and make a healthy profit?

Post edited at 10:11
In reply to whenry:

> I believe that in maintained schools, local authorities run the contract for school catering. Academies organise their own catering, either in-house or outsourcing it. It's definitely not central government.

Thanks, thought so. So this idea of ‘cronyism’ may be misplaced? Schools/ LAs need to sack off the rogues and work with better ones, many places already do. 

In reply to The New NickB:

> They are not going in to a supermarket to buy things then adding their costs on top. How do you think the supermarkets themselves cover their costs and make a healthy profit?

Re schools, What i understand is they source the food off existing contractors/suppliers and ensure it covers the standards set down by the government (basically replicating a school meal - I checked with a local school). So long as they do this they can use the remaining cash for general school running costs and wages). So it costs miles more to do it ‘in house’.  Tesco’s would allow miles more food to be given but i worry that schools would loose this income.

Caveat: I’m deducing most of this, happy to be proved wrong. I’m sounding like a right Tory Boy in these debates which is doing my nut in as a raving leftie who’s dedicated his life whole to fighting poverty and oppression !!

In reply to Niall_H:

in case folks missed it...

https://liverpool.gov.uk/freeschoolmealvouchers
 

The Liverpool voucher system, opeerational from this week, back dated to start of term, which any LA could have chosen. (I think)

 whenry 10:28 Fri
In reply to mick taylor:

Part of the problem is that schools didn't anticipate ever closing for a pandemic, and so their catering contracts don't provide for an alternative to in-school lunches, which are often cooked meals. Cooking large trays of shepherds pie etc is very different to providing 500 sets of food for a family to make lunch for a week, and no school caterers are set up to do this on short notice. It's not just making any food, it's the supply - parents aren't going to want a 20kg bag of rice, and school caterers buy in wholesale quantities. In addition, because this is outside the scope of contracted services, most caterers are likely to demand that they're paid extra for it.

My school has furloughed its catering staff and is providing vouchers - we've been doing that for the last two weeks, but it has cost us an additional £3k/week (we have a large number of eligible pupils). If we have to do that for more than a few weeks that starts to eat into our reserves, which then has an impact on the teaching budget next year.

It doesn't mean that those photos don't illustrate some rather crap selections of food (and some of those photos look rather like the schools packed lunches I had occasionally as a child), but in addition to Mick's point about the exaggeration, some realism is needed about the ability of caterers to suddenly be able to switch their output with no notice.

 whenry 10:44 Fri
In reply to mick taylor:

If the school caterers are making up the food parcels, you have to pay their costs. Obviously some of that is profit, but any sensible school/LA is going to insist on open book accounts so they know what their margin is - it's pretty small. A lot of the difference will go to staffing costs and the cost of running the kitchen. It's one of the reasons why we immediately started giving out Sainsbury's vouchers - families get more food, and since ours are mainly in a very deprived area we felt it was important to maximise the end product. But it does come at a cost (particularly until the government sponsored schemes are up and running), and not all schools can afford it.

Edit: spelling.

Post edited at 11:08
 Cobra_Head 10:48 Fri
In reply to mick taylor:

> in case folks missed it...

> The Liverpool voucher system, opeerational from this week, back dated to start of term, which any LA could have chosen. (I think)


But isn't that the point? we're  two weeks into this now, it should have been planned for. We shouldn't NEED to back date anything.

Your post suggests people can simply get by for 2+ weeks while shit gets sorted, many people haven't got that option.

Post edited at 10:49
In reply to whenry:

Thanks for this, and this is partly why I thought Marcus R should have slowed down and take a more measured response. It’s more complex than folk think. 

Supplementary point: in lockdown I had to sort food parcels for shielding asylum families and was directed to one of the school catering companies. They had already made up food boxes for us to buy and boxes of hygiene products They werent very good (we had to supplement them) but it was obvious that the boxes contained loads of food that wouldn’t last so we were getting trays of yoghurts, two kilo tubs of Marge etc, catering tins of toms etc (meat and veg already given to food banks I think). Nightmare for them, must have hit them financially, a small local company. It would be too big a risk form them to have too much food in supply and chances are when recent lockdown announced they would have had loads of meat etc to get rid of (foodbanks probably).

In reply to Cobra_Head:

Wrong:  My understanding is that in Liverpool the children got food parcels for the first short week after NY then the vouchers kicked in. Judging by parents they were well happy with it.  No one went hungry and all staff involved did a great job. 

 whenry 10:59 Fri
In reply to Cobra_Head:

> But isn't that the point? we're  two weeks into this now, it should have been planned for. We shouldn't NEED to back date anything.

> Your post suggests people can simply get by for 2+ weeks while shit gets sorted, many people haven't got that option.

It's a slightly different point - the government was insisting that schools would go back as normal, and so many schools, not entirely unreasonably, were following their instructions - though quite frankly they (the government and schools/LAs) should have had contingency plans.

In my school, we were expecting at the beginning of December that schools would either be ordered to have a slowly staggered return after Christmas or be completely shut for January - a month later the government had its u-turn. The writing was on the wall in early December, but the government's pig-headedness meant that they didn't get these systems in place. It was merely a "fortunate" consequence of the problems with the Edenred system last year that meant that we already had our own plan in place with Sainsburys and were able to fall back on that from the 4th January.

In reply to Cobra_Head:

Leeds did a brilliant job....

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www.leeds-live.co.uk/news/leeds-news/what-kids-leeds-city-council-19612481.amp

...which is why, in the case of new lockdown and FSM, I’m not sure the blame lies with the gov’t (wider child food poverty does though)

Post edited at 11:01
 whenry 11:05 Fri
In reply to mick taylor:

It's definitely not been a great time to be a catering company. Lots of food that is in catering quantities and difficult to shift to retailers or families because no one needs half a tonne of yogurt. And for schools its a difficult balance - in normal times we're pleased with our caterer - they deliver decent food at a cost that we can afford, but now want us to contribute to a product that we're not receiving. We don't want to pay for that, but equally, we don't want them to go bust!

In reply to whenry:

> Lots of food that is in catering quantities and difficult to shift to retailers or families because no one needs half a tonne of yogurt. 


Much of the recent campaign contained images of zip lock bags of cheese with parents saying they felt ‘degraded’ by being given it. They just didn’t know the complexities, which could have been overcome by better comms but it would have been crazy busy (but the whole recent fiasco could have been avoided by announcing school closures a lot earlier, I’ll never let the feckers off for that).

 Cobra_Head 17:03 Fri
In reply to mick taylor:

> Leeds did a brilliant job....

> ...which is why, in the case of new lockdown and FSM, I’m not sure the blame lies with the gov’t (wider child food poverty does though)


Do you not think this was Leeds, pre-empting a f*ck up by the government?

The government are the ones in charge, you can't blame others because one school managed to avert the damage done by those that should have been decisive and had contingency plans.

Like Hancock, lauding the food for schools program, but voted against school meals!! WTF!

 Cobra_Head 17:04 Fri
In reply to whenry:

> It's a slightly different point - the government was insisting that schools would go back as normal, and so many schools, not entirely unreasonably, were following their instructions - though quite frankly they (the government and schools/LAs) should have had contingency plans.

I think you disagreed, then agreed, aren't you saying the same as me towards the end of your sentence?

In reply to Cobra_Head:

It’s not one school though is it, it appears that most schools have done a good job. 
I do feel like I’m sticking up for them (or at least being viewed as if I am) which makes me feel weird coz I hate the feckers and feel very strongly about child welfare etc. And obviously the govts last minute decision was the main issue in this instance. But I do think in this case some of the complexities have been ignored, setting up systems takes a while.

And they were still showing those misleading images today ffs. 

 whenry 23:13 Fri
In reply to Cobra_Head:

It's a combination of schools/LAs and central government. Central government has, over Christmas, been exceptionally useless at making and sticking to decisions around education - though I can appreciate their reasons. This hasn't helped anyone involved in the delivery of food parcels and vouchers get ready to deliver when needed.

However, a reasonably switched-on school/LA should have anticipated the government's u-turn on school closures and, given the decision in March to provide food vouchers for FSM children, been ready to dish out vouchers as required - and indeed, many have. As Mick has said, I think that generally schools in more deprived areas have been better at this than schools in more wealthy areas.

The message of Tory scum in central government making children starve so their mates get richer might be an attractive one, but it simply isn't the reality. Government decisions have been messy, unclear, and subject to change, but quite frankly the poor delivery of FSMs for a couple of weeks is (quite rightly) far less a priority than making a decision that is likely to impact all children for the next 60+ years. And central government has nothing to do with the provision of catering in schools - they are not "in charge" of school meals! You may as well blame Boris when there isn't a till without a queue in your local Tesco...

Let's get this straight - free school meals are really important to those who receive them. But the impact of closing schools will, in the long term, be far more significant to the rest of their life than having ten poor quality meals. The government has made it very clear that they're aware of this, and that's certainly going to have been one of the reasons why the decision to close schools was so late. Even so, the sensible thing to have done would have been to have decided in early December that the start of term would be delayed. They could have then evaluated the evidence, and made a decision in January with minimum disruption - and that would have given time for free school meals to have been sorted.

The reality is though, that most people seem happy with the provision - it's not just Leeds and my school. It's a handful of schools where it's been managed badly, and where a group of social-media savvy parents and activists have been highly successful at forming an attractive narrative. I can guarantee that as soon as the story broke, all local newspapers would have been trying to find parents with sob stories about the mouldy potato and single apple core they were given for lunch for a month, but no more stories have yet to emerge. You can blame Boris and chums for many things, but this isn't one of them.

 Cobra_Head 23:50 Fri
In reply to whenry:

> But the impact of closing schools will, in the long term, be far more significant to the rest of their life than having ten poor quality meals.

Why should it, the whole cohort have all missed the same amount of school, so isn't everyone in the same boat?

Are you suggesting that if you don't achieve X by the age of 16 or 18 then you're fooked, because that is plainly bollocks.

If anything, this pandemic has shown how stupid having test time points in people lives is, to deciding they'll either make something of themselves or fail. This isn't the only option.

 Offwidth 11:18 Sat
In reply to Cobra_Head:

A new profile piece on Jack Monroe... having a  heart very much in the right place...  being stressed out ... and campaigning about plenty of bad things that have happened around food poverty.... I'd forgive small errors.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/jan/16/jack-monroe-on-food-poverty-and-fury-i-just-wake-up-look-at-the-news-and-get-angry

 whenry 19:06 Sat
In reply to Cobra_Head:

Theoretically, yes - everyone's in the same boat. But some are in first class, and others are in steerage. Everyone in the same school class has the same lessons delivered online, whether that's the usual timetable delivered over Microsoft Teams, or directions to a couple of YouTube videos. But to a great extent, that's where it ends. Our experience has been this:

  • We have about 10% of pupils that are persistently absent (in normal school times). About 90% of those are from deprived households. When school is running, once we have them in class (lateness counts as absence) we are able to ensure they stay in school and go to their lessons. Largely the same 10% are not attending online lessons regularly, or are consistently missing parts of the online school day. Our options during lockdown for getting them into lessons are considerably fewer than when school is in session normally. Already there is clear evidence that those children are going to be about 8 weeks behind their peers by March - it doesn't sound much, but it really is.
  • Access to IT is more limited in deprived families than in wealthy ones. Children far less commonly have their own laptops etc, either having to share with siblings or their parents, which makes doing school work digitally a challenge. Broadband speeds are also generally slower, which impacts the quality of their online lessons.
  • Parents in wealthier families are more commonly working from home, often in jobs which allow greater flexibility in the hours they can work - so they are spending more time during the day making their children sign on to their lessons and do the work. They're also around more to answer questions relating to schoolwork (and, though we have no hard evidence on this, anecdotally seem to be more highly educated).
  • Wealthier families may have larger houses and more places where their children can sit at a table or desk out of the way and work, instead of sitting on a bed or sofa. The evidence suggests that where children work (table/desk vs bed, noisy vs quiet room) has an impact on the quality of their learning.

This isn't speculation - we have plenty of data on our pupils that we use to direct our efforts. Some of it comes from surveys, some from visits to pupils' homes, some from data provided by the Department for Education or local council.

Some of these things we can mitigate - but only if the parents allow us to help, and there is some stigma about accepting this help. With some pupil groups, particularly those in the persistent absence group, we know that their parents place a low value on education, and this attitude filters down to the pupils - so they don't care about going to school. During lockdown, pupils are not required to attend school, and some of the interventions that we normally use aren't available to us.

> Are you suggesting that if you don't achieve X by the age of 16 or 18 then you're fooked, because that is plainly bollocks.

I'm not sure how you've drawn this conclusion...

In reply to mick taylor:

> Leeds did a brilliant job....

Yet the article goes on about how bad a food box it is. It's for bloody lunches not the main dinner. 

In reply to mick taylor:

Government released details of how schools can register for the vouchers at 7pm last night, deadline is 12 noon today. Can anyone see a problem with that.

In reply to Dax H:

I think you are wrong. I’ve read it and I can’t see anywhere where the article criticises the Leeds box.  

Post edited at 13:40
In reply to The New NickB:

Where did you see that?  To my knowledge schools received an email from the company Edenred on or before 14th. Schools can claim back any expenses for  food parcels from when schools went back. So, schools, who are responsible for sorting FSM could have supplied whatever they saw fit and should not have allowed those private companies to send out unsatisfactory parcels. This would have been difficult the first week (too short notice etc etc) but achievable second week. 
 

Schools opting for this system will most likely have used it previously and they knew as soon as lockdown was announced that this system would be on offer.

In reply to mick taylor:

Local Director of Education. I think that they should have received emails on 13th or 14th, which isn’t quite the same as them doing so. The announcement last night was a tweet.

I’m not directly involved, so I have to take some things told to me by people who are at face value. I have some recent dealings with government on other issues and that experience tells me that only two days late is a major improvement, I’m used to two to three months.

 Luke90 14:56 Sun
In reply to Dax H:

> Yet the article goes on about how bad a food box it is. It's for bloody lunches not the main dinner. 

The article does exactly the opposite. It's favourably comparing the Leeds box to others.

In reply to The New NickB:

You might be right TBH, we will find out tomorrow for sure. 
Just looked at Roadside mums very misleading original tweet which kicked it all off. Considering the parcel is there to replace five school lunches it really isn’t that far off the mark (two meals of jacket spuds, one of pasta, two of sandwiches, fruit and healthy snack with each. She even commented that she would need to have Mayo for the pasta. So if you chucked in a tin of tuna and meat and reduce the cheese it would have been OK. The fact that in previous ‘lockdowns’ many people got the vouchers has been used as a comparison. And I do wonder if schools will end up with less cash if they opt for vouchers?
However, if an outcome is a review of food poverty then that’s good. I did some reading and FSM actually reduce obesity (obesity is a much bigger problem for low income families than wealthier ones by a factor of two I think). 


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