James O’Brien has accused companies distributing free school meals of ‘profiteering’ after pictures emerged of parents receiving meagre packages surfaced online.
Downing Street has pushed for an investigation after parents began sharing pictures online of what they have been given to feed their children for ten days.
Children’s Minister Vicky Ford said she would “urgently” look into the matter after one mother posted an image of a £30 parcel which was estimated to contain just over £5 worth of food.
No 10 has branded the situation “completely unacceptable” while Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called it “disgraceful”.
Marcus Rashford, who campaigned for school kids to receive free meals during the holidays, said the parcels were “just not good enough”.
Reflecting on the pictures, O’Brien posited that any reasonable person with the job of providing children with packed lunches with a £30 budget would go out of their way to buy the most food possible.
“Looking at this picture is some manky old bananas, a tin of beans, a loaf of bread, some slices of cheese, two apples, two carrots, two potatoes, what appears to be a tomato and a couple of packets of fruit loaf.
“I’m fairly confident that nobody involved in that particular decision-making process, whichever company it turned out to have been, was maximising the amount of food they could have got for the child.”
O’Brien said mothers should be given vouchers, and not cash “according to all the people who think the world’s ills can be laid at the feet of Meghan Markle and Greta Thunberg and immigrants and Brussels…you can’t give these people cash because that would involve treating them with dignity, like human beings.
“Just like the people who love the police until they’re being policed themselves”.
O’Brien cited Tory MP Ben Bradley who in October, in a similar sentiment, insinuated that giving away free school meal vouchers “effectively” gave money to “crack dens” and “brothels”.
As children remain at home, the companies providing food parcels are “not only making a profit out of poverty, they’re making a profit out of the pandemic,” the presenter said.
O’Brien argued that in some circumstances, making a profit should not be prioritised, or even permissible.
Touching on national pride, O’Brien surmised: “To go back to the Brexit conversation, and the abuse heaped upon people who are now being proved completely and incontrovertibly right about everything, from Donald Trump right through to fisherman…
“We were accused of being unpatriotic by people who will stand by and watch British children be served up with this absolute debacle of a dinner.”
Jessica Holloway posted on Twitter: “This whole part of the show and how awful this gov is handing it brings me to tears. The recipients are within the free school meal system…. just help them to be fed adequately, what society do we live in that cant look after the most vulnerable, the kids?”
This whole part of the show and how awful this Gov is handing it brings me to tears 😰The recipients are within the free school meal system…. just help them to be fed adequately, what society do we live in that cant look after the most vulnerable, the kids? https://t.co/15wPxb6xg3
— Jessica Holloway💙 (@beakally41) January 12, 2021
“This is absolutely disgusting,” one user wrote. “When I look at the number of people that pick through all the yellow sticker (reduced) items in supermarkets, I realise that it’s not just people looking for bargains. In some cases, its merely to survive.”