FAMILIES who received substandard free school meals packages should raise it with their local council, the leader of Basingstoke Liberal Democrats has said.

The prime minister Boris Johnson has launched a full review of the supply chain after concerns were raised about the quality of the parcels given to struggling families around the country.

In Basingstoke, the majority of parents reported positive experiences but that hasn't been the case for everyone.

The standards vary depending on which private firm has been awarded the contract to provide free school meals in that authority area.

Elaine Stacey, 41, from Reading, was given a food parcel “worth £3” containing a loaf of bread, weighed-out pasta in a sandwich bag, three jelly pots and a jar of Dolmio sauce to feed her 17-year-old son for one week.

During the previous lockdown, she was given £15 food vouchers.

She said: “I was up all night and I didn’t know what to do today. I almost thought I’d have to go to the shop and steal food.”

Ms Stacey, a carer, said she sorted her jewellery out on Monday night, with the intention of pawning it to pay for food, “but there are no shops open”.

Her son has Huntington’s disease, ASD and ADHD, and was given high-calorie drinks by his doctor after losing too much weight.

She said: “I am giving up my food to feed my son.

“I have never been in this position before, I am a saver so for a rainy day I have had to use everything up on the other bills because we are home all the time, the electric gets used more, I have to have it on because he has gotten so skinny he gets cold really quickly.”

Kirsty White, from Basingstoke, said: "I got my food parcel from The Vyne for my son and it was more than enough. It was amazing and came with recipes on how to cook it."

While Stephanie Morris, who also collected a parcel from the same school, said they were "happy and grateful" for what they received.

Donna Ladd said: "I picked up two lunch bags this week from different schools and am more than happy with both."

The Gazette has made repeated attempts to contact Hampshire County Council for comment.

Cllr Gavin James, leader of Basingstoke Liberal Democrats, urged anyone in Basingstoke affected or disappointed with their food parcels to contact him.

He said this ordeal has shown the country is "rubbish" at awarding emergency contracts.

"It's been absolutely appalling. We've nearly been in lockdown a year and they still haven't got it right. The fact kids are unnecessarily going hungry when there was a campaign to stop this from happening is shameful. We as the taxpayer have been ripped off by some of these companies."

Cllr James urged anyone in Basingstoke affected to contact him, saying: "Anyone in Basingstoke who is disappointed. I will look into it and raise it with the council to ensure we don't use the supplier again."