James O'Brien speaks to mum who sparked free school meal parcel debate

13 January 2021, 14:53

By Sam Sholli

This is the moment James O'Brien spoke to the mother who sparked the debate on the adequacy of free school meal parcels.

Lisa, who uses Twitter under the name @RoadsideMum, sparked off debate by sharing an image of package she received from Chartwells, a private company contracted by the Department for Education (DfE) to provide parcels instead of £30 worth of vouchers.

The parcel was said to be worth £30 and was expected to last her child for ten days of school meals.

The Government has since U-turned to provide vouchers, after footballer Marcus Rashford held a call with the Prime Minister on the issue.

Speaking to James about the U-turn, Lisa said: "That's good news. That's certainly something I think most parents will welcome.

"I think most people can get a lot more mileage out of the vouchers than anything that has been put out in the bags and boxes, so that's really positive."

Lisa also spoke of the stigma attached to asking for support to feed children, stating that "the shame narrative is extremely powerful".

She added: "I think children are very good at understanding unfairness and my heart breaks for the number of children who had to understand unfairness in a very real way when it hit their kitchen table this week."

Her comment on shame corroborated the story of mother Rosie, who phoned James on Tuesday in tears, and said that she felt shame in complaining about the food parcel and should be grateful instead - to which James told her, very powerfully, that she should never feel grateful.

Read more: James O'Brien's reaction to the 'absolute debacle' of free school meal parcels