Meagre food packages given to families were as insulting as they were useless

ALL that the dunderheads in charge of giving out “free” packed school lunches had to do was call up a few mums and ask what they needed.

Instead they put together a meagre, miserly package as insulting as it was useless.

It looked like something the poor souls in post-war Russia would have had to put up with, and there wasn’t even the wherewithal to make a decent, healthy, warming pot of soup.

And may I ask what utter genius decided to include small plastic ­bottles of water in these food parcels?

We are in the incredibly ­fortunate position of having clean, safe water on tap here in the UK.

There’s absolutely no need for such expense, not to mention the effect on the environment of all that packaging.

It honestly looked like they were taking the p*** for a particularly unfunny sketch show.

The private company responsible should be ashamed of themselves for such incompetence.

But let’s not forget that somewhere in Westminster this was all rubber-stamped by a human being, who thought it was OK to sanction the delivery of what amounted to little more than a tin of beans, a couple of potatoes, a hunk of cheese and a single sad tomato to desperate, hungry kids.

Laughably, this mean-spirited haul was supposed to last them for five days.

What a sick, sad joke. The company was apparently given a budget of more than £10 per package, but as one angry mum pointed out she could easily have bought the whole lot for just over a fiver.

Also bear in mind this was all being bought in bulk so should have worked out far, far cheaper.

You cannot help but think that somebody somewhere was doing very well out of all of this, but it certainly wasn’t the poor kids that were supposed to benefit.

This week I spoke to the extraordinary Zane Powles, a 48-year-old assistant head teacher in Grimsby who has been delivering lunch boxes to his most vulnerable pupils since last March when the pandemic nightmare began.

This incredible man goes door to door with his heavy backpack, delivering 138 meals a day.

It takes him four to five hours to do his rounds, and it’s all the more remarkable because he is battling the pain of a knee injury and desperately needs surgery.

You won’t be surprised to learn that Zane is an ex-serviceman with the Grenadier Guards, and when his school closed he still wanted to be of service.

Zane’s compassion, work ethic and big-heartedness means he is a hero to everyone in his community and he was deservedly awarded the MBE in the Queen’s honours last October.

Back in the very first lockdown almost a year ago, Zane was utterly dismayed by the standard of meals being provided by the Government, which is why he vowed to make sure all the children in his care would be given something much tastier and healthier.

This week, once again, Zane was really upset by the poor standard of these parcels but also angry about the lack of respect and dignity being afforded to the families most in need.

Following a national outcry and the intervention of the splendid ­campaigning footballer Marcus ­Rashford, the Government has since made another of its U-turns and vowed to offer vouchers and a better standard of food.

When even Home Secretary Priti Patel agreed it was a poor show, you know there’s been an almighty cock-up.

Hopefully this isn’t just another empty gesture and minsters will ­follow up their promises.

They should know that Zane is watching and will not be best pleased if changes aren’t made.

He might be the kindest of men, but you cross an ex-Grenadier Guardsman at your peril.

And, in future, those in charge should remember to seek advice from the people they are supposed to be helping.

There’s no better authority than a mum who has to live within a tight budget and who wants the best for her children.

Banning Trump just hides the threat

I HAVE really mixed feelings about Donald Trump being banned from social media.

Yes, he is toxic and divisive, but is it not better to be aware of his deranged thoughts and plans rather than have him go off-grid and continue preaching his hate to the delusional and the converted?

That attack on the Capitol Building in Washington last week by fruit loops, show-offs, desperados and oddballs was instigated by Trump in speeches and online.

Security forces should have taken it seriously and clamped down hard, as they would have done had it involved Black Lives Matter or any other liberal organisation.

They failed dismally, but at least the plans were all out in the open.

We all knew it was coming because Trump, not the brightest of despots, told us.

The powers-that-be have woken up to the danger and we now have the chilling sight of heavily armed troops in the corridors of a building at the heart of American democracy.

But even though these images are disturbing, it’s surely far better to be prepared for Trump protesters than caught on the hop.

If their leader is banned from social media, they will all follow him under­ground, and it will be far harder to discover and prevent further, and possibly even more serious, violence.

I’m also in two minds about the second Trump impeachment.

On the one hand, if found guilty which looks increasingly likely, it would prevent this dan­gerous windbag from standing as US President ever again.

It would also, at a stroke, squash plans for a Trump dynasty, with his creepy, dead-eyed son and robotic, high-maintenance daughter both said to be hungry for the White House.

On the other hand, Joe Biden is inheriting a deeply divided nation with more than 70million Trump voters feeling bruised and disenfranchised.

Perhaps it would be far more healing not to have a bitterly fought impeachment at this time.

Whatever happens, it’s not going to be easy for Biden, who already looks drained and exhausted.

The good news is we have vibrant and young Kamala Harris waiting in the wings and we will see a lot more of her during the next four years.

Hopefully both of them can help bring some sort of peace to the Disunited States of America.

Mission for Melania

IS it merely a coincidence that Tom Cruise has hired Covid-secure robots to patrol the new Mission Impossible film set, seeking out rule-breakers for him to swear at just when Melania Trump, is out of a job?

I think we should be told.

Land of OAP and glory

THANK the Lord for the current generation of over-80s, who have lived through World War Two, seen the birth of the NHS, watched smallpox eradicated and also had the fear of polio, measles, mumps and rubella taken away.

They know exactly what the Covid vaccines mean and are happily lining up for the jabs.

They are singing the praises of the teams who made the scientific breakthroughs, as well as all the hard-working medics giving the injections.

There’s obviously a long queue for the rest of us, behind the elderly and frontline workers – which I believe should include paramedics, teachers, police officers, firefighters, waste collectors and posties.

We are all privileged to have the opportunity of a life-saving vaccine.

Can you imagine what life would be like right now if we didn’t have the vaccines and weren’t able to look forward to the day when we can be virtually Covid-free?

Meanwhile, we should take inspiration from our elders, who are showing the way forward by embracing the vaccine and urging everyone to play their part in getting us back to the world we used to know.

No show without Sassy Sam

WHAT is the point of bringing back the original cast of Sex And The City without the ­incom­parable Samantha Jones?

It would be like Star Trek without Spock, Frasier without Niles or Corrie without Ken and Rita.

It just doesn’t make any sense.

Samantha – deliciously played by Kim Cattrall – was far and away the most entertaining, truthful, funny and outrageous character in SATC.

Let’s be honest, Carrie was a selfish narcissist, Miranda was annoying and whiny and Charlotte a dull Fifties housewife.

The only character who provided proper sass was Samantha.

She also had some really poignant scenes when living with breast cancer, especially when she was losing her hair.

Remember when she decides to cut it off and her boyfriend Smith Jerrod shaves his head in solidarity?

It was a touching scene and showed even Samantha had vulnerability.

I suppose there’s a tiny bit of consolation that the new reboot can’t possibly be any worse than the dire movie Sex And The City 2, which was released ten years ago and is one of the worst films I have ever been forced to endure.

For reasons that could only have been to do with product placement, SATC2 was set in Abu Dhabi and poor Kim Cattrall earned her fee by having to utter the gruesome line that Samantha’s latest conquest was “Lawrence of my labia”.

They should have just stopped after the perfect ending of the first movie, giving us fond memories of a show that was very much of its time.

I know there’s bad blood between Kim and the other women, most especially with Sarah Jessica Parker, but I really hope they don’t kill Samantha off, and they explain her absence in a way that pays tribute and does justice to an incredible character.


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