Updated: Mar 20, 2021
Chartwells, who hold the monopoly catering contract at Brunel, have been blasted by staff and students at the University over their free school meals profiteering.
Following the recent lockdown, Chartwells were chosen by the UK Government as the supplier to provide £30 worth of food a week to those on free school meals.
As can be seen by the tweet by @Munchbunch87 below, the food provided amounts to nothing close to £30.
This has provoked outrage on Twitter including among Brunel's staff body.
Commenting on what Chartwells have done, Senior Journalism lecturer Rachel Sharp commented:
“It’s absolutely shameful. I think if you gave parents the £30 to spend themselves they could come up with much more substantial meals. I can’t bear to think of parents struggling to feed their children during this pandemic. If these companies are profiting from hungry children then it’s disgraceful and the government must act”
Politics lecturer Stuart Fox similarly expressed outrage:
"We already know that this pandemic is going to leave a deep scar on today's children for years to come, and that it's hitting the most vulnerable the hardest. What kind of human being could put these 'hampers' together and send them off to feed poor, hungry children for a couple of weeks and still look themselves in the mirror?"
Bernadine Evaristo, a Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel (and Booker Prize winner) laid the blame at the Government's door:
"We can never again accuse other countries of being corrupt. This government is - to its core"
Students have also expressed their anger. Jamila Wright, third year creative writing student commented:
"I think that its absolutely disgraceful the way that struggling families have been treated by Chartwells. I was on free school meals for a few years as a child and it would have been humiliating for me to receive this kind of package. Its clear that Chartwells is only ever interested in making money at the expense of working families. These kinds of public welfare programs should be being run by the government directly in the interests of ordinary people and the public and not outsourced to the companies of Tory donors".
Chartwells have contested some of the information shared online. In response to the controversy, they commented:
"We have had time to investigate the picture circulated on Twitter today. For clarity, this shows five days of free school lunches (not ten days) and the charge for food, packaging, and distribution was actually £10.50 and not £30 as suggested. However, in our efforts to provide thousands of parcels a week at extremely short notice we are very sorry the quantity has fallen short in this instance"