Government attacked for ignoring expert advice on nutrition in food parcels

A group of leading food policy academics have criticised the government for its “shocking” disregard for basic nutrition of the most vulnerable members of society during the pandemic.

A co-signed letter to Defra by Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy at London’s City University at the start of the pandemic called for the creation of a  committee on food and nutrition to oversee the contents of food packages sent to 1.5 million shielding people and to the 1.3 million children eligible for free school meals (FSM).

In response, Defra said that it was PHE  who “is responsible for the health of the public and the effect of nutrition on our immune system” while PHE replied that the matters raised were “for ministers.”

Many parcels received by those shielding were reported to be high in carbohydrates and low in fresh food or protein, and many did not reflect religious or cultural sensitivities. Issues were also raised on the nutritional quality of parcels provided to children on FSM.

While FSM vouchers are being provided for children over the summer holidays, concern remains on the nutritional value of the food being eaten by the poorest families. “The voucher scheme is a financial solution, not a nutritional solution,” said Naomi Duncan, chief executive of Chefs in Schools.

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