SWINDON parents and teachers have given their view on the controversial food parcels debate – saying the situation in the town is not as bad as elsewhere in the country.

They spoke out after the government was forced into a fresh U-turn, issuing new guidance yesterday morning. Schools are now free to issue local or national food vouchers or lunch parcels, depending on what is best for their pupils.

The government shifted its position after pictures emerged on social media showing a meagre amount of food – supposedly costing £30 – being distributed to families by private contractors.

A parent of a six-year-old child at Grange Infant School said they had now been issued with a £30 meal voucher after originally receiving a parcel of food worth £6.

“We received an email from the school on Tuesday night saying they were very disappointed with the quality of their food parcels and will be rectifying it with food vouchers,” they said.

“It’s not the school’s fault. They’ve rectified the problem, because they’ve realised how bad it was."

Their child had been given a parcel containing a banana, an apple and a satsuma, four slices of cheese, some pasta, one loaf of bread, a tin of chopped tomatoes, a tin of baked beans, one carrot, half a cucumber, two potatoes, four yoghurts and six eggs. 

It was intended to last for 10 days. 

“That’s supposed to be the equivalent of £30,” added the father of two. 

“I’m a chef and caterer myself and I’ve worked in children’s nurseries and schools, so I know rough costs and to me it comes up – even if I went to the supermarket – at £6. 

“I’m happy that they’re helping, but I would have expected to get the money’s worth. So it’s quite disappointing when you only get that much which is supposed to last you ten days,” he added. 

Another mum of two said: “I honestly feel it has helped me massively and appreciate what we have been given. I’m not sure what they are supposed to be but what we have will definitely help my little ones' lunches for a few days."

“If they are supposed to equate to £30 like I’ve been hearing, then they no way come to that. But I’m not sure what they were supposed to be.”

Her parcel for one child was intended to last for two weeks. 

Headteacher of Goddard Park Primary School Mike Welsh welcomed the government’s latest move. The school had itself been providing food vouchers for pupils who qualified for free school meals rather than parcels, and hot food for those in school.

“We are pleased that the Department of Education at long last has agreed to provide these vouchers. 

“We feel vouchers are best for parents and now they’ve made the announcement we’re really pleased with that."