A PARENT in Poole in receipt of free school meals has criticised Talbot Primary School after waiting two weeks to receive an ‘underwhelming hamper’ of food items.

The mother, who asked not to be named, says that she’s lost trust in the school that her son attends after not receiving food vouchers or a delivery from the primary since the beginning of this term.

Whereas parents would usually receive shopping vouchers when schools are closed, the school in Poole has teamed up with Chartwells, a catering and food service providing hampers for students receiving free school meals.

Students who attend school have been entitled to packed lunches courtesy of the school.

The concerned mum said: “Last week we received an email from the school to say that we would be receiving food hampers from the company Chartwells.

“We were also told that this would not be provided to us until the January 13. We have therefore gone two weeks with no help for the vulnerable families who need these.

“No food or vouchers have been provided to people to cover the period up until the January 13, which is unacceptable. Where are the funds that have been paid to the schools going? We have just been left.”

Parents of students at the school enlisted to receive entitled for free school meals are also unhappy with the fact that they have to go to the school to collect these hampers, adding to the embarrassment of the situation.

Talbot Primary says they were unable to provide help during the first week of term due to a broken boiler.

The parent, who has been paying for her son’s meals since September, also says the type of food her son can eat is limited as he suffers with ‘sensory issues’ surrounding what he eats – a problem she says neither the school nor Chartwells are able to cater for.

After received the free hamper on Wednesday January 14, the mum was shocked by the contents.

The hamper, consisting of five potatoes, two tomatoes, two apples, two oranges, one flapjack, one cookie, one brownie, baked beans, bread, milk and cheese, was expected to last her and her son five days.

“I feel like it’s rubbish,” said the mum. “My son’s issues means he won’t eat half of it, plus I’ll be having to feed him the same repetitive food which I think isn’t fair.

“I would get him better food and more from the supermarket and more for value.

“I don’t trust the school I feel they the excuse of boiler breaking down even though we went into lockdown is out of order.

“To be fair I’m lucky I can feed my children but I’m so angry at this because of families I know will really struggle.”

Meanwhile, Talbot Primary School says it continues to work hard to support all families in line with current government guidance, and that additional food from the school, provided through charitable donations from Magic Breakfast, staff and other parents, has been distributed to a number of families.

A spokesman for the primary school said: “We pride ourselves on supporting our disadvantaged families as many of our families will testify and we have provided additional food, outside of that provided by Chartwells, to families in need for many years.

"We, as a school, recognise that a number of parents would prefer the issue of vouchers and as previously stated, once the government announces the launch of their national voucher scheme, then we will happily revert to this.

"We have consistently said that at no point do we wish children to go hungry and have reiterated that anyone in need of support can contact the school for help, many parents have done this. It is important to note that we are a school and are limited in the breadth and quantity of food.

“We are in the midst of another lockdown, having to react at very short notice, in order to care for and teach the children of critical workers and vulnerable pupils in school, whilst also providing remote learning for the remainder of our 575 pupils who are working from home.”