Apology to Barnet mother for 'embarrassing' food parcel
- Credit: Alexandra Lazzarella
A Barnet mother-of-four said a scant food parcel made her feel “embarrassed” and damaged her dignity.
Alexandra Lazzarella, 40, collected a food parcel from her 13-year-old daughter’s school, Bishop Douglass in East Finchley, last Friday but was shocked at the lack of produce, and its poor quality.
Among her small selection of food including a tin of baked beans and two potatoes, Alexandra said the fruit and vegetables were frozen – which the school disputes.
The mother claimed she was told by the school the food would last her a week. The bread she was given had a sell-by date of November 2021.
ISS, the company responsible for the parcel, has apologised to Alexandra – in addition to the school.
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The scheme is funded by the government for children from poorer families who would normally receive free school meals.
The government has been criticised for the food parcel scheme but says it is supporting vulnerable families over winter with £170m of funding.
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Alexandra, who works night shifts for Tesco, told the Ham&High: “What can I do with this [food parcel]?
“There’s nothing to do. If this is for kids, where is the meat, where is the fish, where is something properly to eat during the day?”
Alexandra’s four children live with her at home in New Southgate. She is on housing benefit but fears for those in worse a position than her.
She continued: “Thank God I have a job. I am not rich, I don’t own a house, I don’t pay rent, I am on the record of government it's true – but I have dignity.”
Alexandra, who is originally from Italy, added: “I’ve worked in this country for nine years but this has made me feel like I am still no one. It's embarrassing.”
A spokesperson for ISS said: “We received a complaint from a parent regarding a food parcel which was inconsistent with the good quality we normally deliver.
“We have since investigated and taken swift action to resolve and have apologised for the inconvenience.”
Martin Tissot, the headteacher of Bishop Douglass, said ISS missed out “several foodstuffs” from the parcel, and that the school apologised “unreservedly for any distress caused”.
Finchley and Golders Green MP Mike Freer said the children’s minister was “concerned” to hear of the incident and that he “urged all parents who are not satisfied to contact their school in the first instance”.
A spokesperson for the Department for Educati
on said: “As was the case over Christmas, vulnerable families will continue to receive meals and other essentials over February half term via councils through the £170 million Covid Winter Grant Scheme launched last year.
"Our guidance is clear: schools provide free school meals for eligible pupils during term time. Beyond that, there is wider government support in place to support families and children via the billions of pounds in welfare support we've made available."
On Monday, the government started providing food vouchers worth £15 a week.