Home Economics Rashford's School Meals - You Always Send Money, Not Things

Rashford’s School Meals – You Always Send Money, Not Things



Marcus Rashford’s campaign over school meals and all that is hitting one of the basic caveats of welfare systems. You – near – always give out money, not things. Exceptions might be stuff like stitching up a sliced jugular at A&E, for a health insurance policy isn’t a useful substitute at that point. But for most things, yes, send people money, not stuff.

For example, this period poverty thing. OK, many of us don’t think it’s all that much of a real problem to begin with and as the lifting of VAT has shown – all those people showing what a small sum of money 5% of £24 a year is – we’re probably right. But put that aside. OK, so what do we do about it?

Given my lack of experience in this area, I did actually check this all with a female doctor who pointed out that it’s all a little more complicated than just tampons. Flows vary, some prefer pads, and so on. The very fact that there are so many different designs and types on the market is all the evidence we need that different women prefer different methods of dealing with menses.

Which, of course, is why it is such rampant idiocy for government to try to distribute the things themselves. We already have great big barns in every city and town in the country packed with all the variations of these products. They’re called shops. All women need is the coin of the realm to browse said barns and purchase the variant they desire. Thus we shouldn’t be handing out menstrual products (emergency supplies in a school cupboard or homeless shelters or even food bank being a different matter): we should be handing out money.

This point is so well known that the US Census keeps pointing out the flaw in the US welfare system. The major benefits are vouchers, special debit cards that only work for food, medical care. All of which are perceived, by the recipients, as being worth less than the cost of getting it to them. Those poor would be made better off by simply giving them the money to go spend.

So it is with this school meals replacement idea.

Marcus Rashford has criticised free school meal packages being sent to some children and families learning from home.

The parcels, which have been sent to children who would normally qualify for free school meals and are now learning remotely during the national lockdown, have been criticised online by parents.

One tweet showed a package, supposedly containing £30 worth of food to last for 10 days, comprising just a loaf of bread, some cheese, a tin of beans, two carrots, two bananas, three apples, two potatoes, a bag of pasta, three Frubes, two Soreen bars and a tomato.

In response to another post, the Manchester United striker and anti-poverty campaigner tweeted: “3 days of food for 1 family … Just not good enough”.

The problem being:

Today the government said it was ‘urgently’ looking into claims free school meals parcels only contain a few pounds worth of food.

Pupils either get a £30 voucher or the physical food, depending on which school they go to, but there is a huge gulf between parcels around the country.

Until this week suppliers were working on costs of £2.34 a day per student, but on Friday the government increased this by £3.50 a week.

The problem being the idiocy of trying to set up an entire and new food distribution system. We’ve already got one of those, they’re called supermarkets. So, give people the coin of the realm – vouchers, money, whatever – to go buy the damn food.

Whatever we think of the initial complaint about school meals – damn little for my part – it’s still insane to be sending food parcels. Given ’em cash for God’s Sake.

Now, if Mr. Rashford were to be sensible and informed enough to be proposing that then we might get somewhere.



  1. Now, if Mr. Rashford were to be sensible and informed enough to be proposing that then we might get somewhere.

    Buts it’s not just about feeding the cheeeeldren. It’s about marketing one Marcus Rashford, ably assisted by Jay Z’s sports marketing agency. Kerching.

  2. But we’re already giving these families hundreds of pounds a week in benefits, yet they still can’t feed their children (apparently). So I remain unconvinced that handing them a few extra quid will eliminate the problem.

    In reality, there are only two reasons why a 21st century schoolchild in the UK might go hungry. The first (and probably the most likely) is that government has stuffed up the process of getting their benefits to them, the solution to which is to fix the system or sack the incompetents who are screwing up. The second cause is a dysfunctional parent (unlikely to be in the plural) who is spending all the money on some combination of betting, booze and drugs, so again handing them more money isn’t going to help – the children should be in care (appallingly run though that state system is).

    • I’d agree. This problem was noted with the money to abos program. Naturally some blokes thought it was more sensible to spend it on what they wanted, not what the government or the woke wanted them to spend it on.

    • The problem with giving cash is that the parents can spend it on voddy/skank/foxybingo rather than food. A food voucher would be a good middle ground, I’m sure we could get Tesco/Asda and Visa/Mastercard to implement it FOC on the back of their reward card systems.

  3. @ Quentin Vole
    There is some point along the dysfunctional axis where the child should be “in care” but where the parent is merely dysfunctional not abusive it’s pretty close to out-of-sight to normal families. Some dysfunctional parents are looked after by their school-age children.

  4. There is a side issue. “Normally” parents would get funding to feed their kids 150 days of the year, and the school would get funding to feed them the other 210 days. With schools locked up, parents are being expected to use that 150 Zarbles to pay for 365 Zarbles-worth of food. There’s a strong argument that children on free school meals should continue to have 210 Zarbles of food paid for for them while they’re not in school. The system has been set up to expect the parents to only feed them for 150 days, it’s reasonable to point that out when expected to feed them for 365 days.

    Whether that is folding money or Supermarket Scrip, as our host repeatedly argues, it should be freely tradable funds that the recipient can choose what to buy with.

  5. JGH, very interesting point which raises the question: Is the funding given to the schools to cover ‘free’ (really?) school meals included in the calculation of Worstalls Fallacy?

    • When I worra school governor, we had to report number of Free School Meals pupils to the local authority by (from memory) third week of term to get the funding added to our budget. Again from memory it was about two pounds per pupil, we handed that over to the pupils as a number of pre-printed tickets, which they could use to purchase whatever they wanted at the school canteen, and top it up with as much “real” money as they wanted.

      I can’t remember the menu prices of the meals, but reaching back even further in time to when I was a free meals pupil, my voucher had a face value of 50 new pee, and I’d sometimes top up with about another 2p, so about 50p-52p for, eg, errrr…. three slices of chicken, a mound of peas, two spheres of mash, a falange of carrots, gravy, sponge pudding, custard, fruit juice. This was almost three decades ago.

  6. the children should be in care (appallingly run though that state system is)

    Not convinced about that. Putting a child in care might get it regular food, but also put it at greater risk of noncery.

  7. There is a fun stream of posts on twitter comparing: left hand photo tweet moaning about contents of food parcel; right hand photo same person talking about their sky premium package, new 60 quid video game bought on release, etc.


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