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By defcribed
I find some of the news I've read this morning really depressing.

Some chap, a headteacher, has posted on twitter 'shaming' the free school meal provision for kids at home while schools are closed.

He posts a picture of the food. Looks like the ingredients to make cheese sandwiches for a week, 5x crisps, 5x snack bar of some sort, 5x piece of fruit and (for some reason only) 2 yoghurts. He complains that it's 'shameful' for the £11 it costs the school.

Now it might not be what I'd want to eat every day, but it is enough food to give a school-age child lunch for a week and the nutritional choices aren't going to kill anyone in the short term. It's also relatively non-perishable and easy to manage logistically. If you add up the likely supermarket cost of the things in the photograph, it gets pretty close to £11. He's perhaps forgetting that neither butter nor cheese are particularly cheap, and the contractor is a business after all and not providing it at cost.

Now these are not normal times - this is a serious national crisis - and the complaint is that something being given to people for free is 'shameful'? How it is not good enough? Not nutritious enough? Not plentiful enough? Not nice enough? Well we might all like it to be a bit nicer, but this is a crisis, it's given out for free, and it's sufficient for what it needs to do.

The sense of entitlement some people seem to have leaves me amazed.

Additionally, The Guardian seem to have made a nice little habit of chatting to stressed-out healthcare professionals and getting them to make anonymous comments about how the shortage of PPE means they might consider quitting their jobs. Well, stone me, I think perhaps the DoH is aware of the shortage of PPE and is doing all it can about it, no? What are The Guardian trying to achieve by stirring like this? They certainly aren't helping.
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By rikur_
<drift> That tweet has given me flash backs to our trek around Iceland 20 years ago, when lunches for the week were a loaf of icelandic bread, a pack of sliced cheese , and a bag of 7 tomatoes. Happier times....
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By Paul_Sengupta
Does the £11 include delivery?

Let's add it up from Sainsbury's.

Bread - £0.55
Stork baking block - £0.90 (don't know if it's the same stuff)
Cheese - £1.00 (assuming 200g)
Crisps - £0.50 (4 packs from a 24 pack)
Satsumas - £0.325 (assuming 18 satsumas per kilo)
Apples - £0.44 (different apples but similar price)

Hang on, I've clicked on the picture....there's more....

Shortbread - £0.16 (40g from 200g)
Go Ahead apple bar - £0.17
Jaffa cakes - £0.555
Flapjack - £0.44 (not from Sainsburys)
Penguin - £0.21
Yogurt - £0.67


That comes to £5.37.
Last edited by Paul_Sengupta on Wed Mar 25, 2020 12:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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By defcribed
Paul_Sengupta wrote:Does the £11 include delivery?

Let's add it up from Sainsbury's.

Bread - £0.55
Stork baking block - £0.90 (don't know if it's the same stuff)
Cheese - £1.00 (assuming 200g)
Crisps - £0.625 (5 packs from a 24 pack)
Satsumas - £0.325 (assuming 18 satsumas per kilo)
Apples - £0.44 (different apples but similar price)

Hang on, I've clicked on the picture....there's more....

I seriously doubt that's a 55p loaf in the picture. I can't remember the last time I paid less than a pound for a loaf, and I don't buy posh bread. You've missed out the snack bars and the yoghurts - and branded yoghurts are not cheap.

Bulk-buy assumptions don't hold here, nor does the selection of 'best value' items, which will be unavailable at the moment, as comparables. This stuff is probably being obtained from wherever they can get it and at whatever the sticker price is.

Additionally, the school meal contractors are set up to deliver bulk prepared food in a canteen setting. That's their business. They're not geared up to deliver a week's worth of lunches to people's homes. All that will have to have been set up from scratch, and costs money. Then remember they're a business, so even if the gross margin on the food approaches 30-40% (which I highly doubt) then they've got to run their business on that before coming out with a net margin.

My real ire is not directed at his criticism of the cost. But then he's in charge of the school, so if he doesn't like the offering for that price then buy it somewhere else. See if anyone else wants to take a punt on offering to put that package together and all the logistics that support it for less than £11 per week's worth of lunches delivered. Good luck.

My real ire is at the sense of entitlement. This is being handed out to people for free during a huge crisis. The food is perfectly good from any objective standpoint, but because it's chosen and assembled with ease of logistics in an emergency (rather than nutrition, taste of value for money) in mind it is somehow 'shameful'.
defcribed wrote:I seriously doubt that's a 55p loaf in the picture.

No, it'll be cheaper. Everything will be cheaper in bulk. But you mentioned supermarket prices. I couldn't find that particular flapjack in the supermarkets nor the small packs of Jaffa Cakes.

I buy posh bread - Hovis or Braces - which is £1 a loaf. (£1 from Lidl, £1.06 from Spar, £1.10 from Tesco)

I think the "shameful" is about the cost vs. quality. You could get Hovis bread and proper butter for that price!
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By defcribed
Paul_Sengupta wrote:No, it'll be cheaper.

I have honestly never seen a full-size brown or wholemeal loaf for as little as 55p. Perhaps when I was a kid, but not now. Proper butter would be nice, but is also probably quite hard to get in quantity at the moment.

It's a business with overheads, not an at-cost delivery service using volunteers. If someone offered me a business opportunity to produce and deliver lunches to people at £11 per head per week, I'd probably decline after a quick think about the likely costs of doing it.

It's free to the recipient, that's the point, and it does the job during a huge crisis. Yet someone in a position of responsibility complains that it's not good enough. The attitude of the head is phenomenally entitled, especially when if he thinks it's poor value then he's free to buy it from elsewhere.
By cockney steve
ISTR recently reading that there's no nutritional value in margarine. When I started work, I also started using real butter.......never bought margarine since!. buy discounted bread at end of "best -before" date (no, it can't read and doesn't know it's going to be inedible at midnight!) Still have a couple of loaves in the freezer. :D
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By Paul_Sengupta
defcribed wrote:I have honestly never seen a full-size brown or wholemeal loaf for as little as 55p.

Where do you shop?

Sainsbury's. 55p.

You can get their Taste The Difference top of the line multi mega seeded farmhouse for £1.10.

defcribed wrote:It's free to the recipient, that's the point

Not really. Just because something's not at cost to the recipient doesn't mean it should be of substandard quality for the amount we, as taxpayers, pay.

I bought some end of life tiger bread from Tesco last night for 11p. Had some lovely bread and butter and some toast for myself and my father this lunchtime. :D
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By defcribed
Ok, go to Sainsburys right now, during this crisis, and tell them you want 1,000 units of that product line every Monday morning. See what they say. And not just any old 1,000 units, 1,000 units all with a use-by date of the following Friday or later.

I can only refer back to my points about (a) the logistical effort to do this having to be set up from scratch and (b) the contractor doing it having staff and all the other business costs to pay. Your analysis of the cost, while ambitious, has got it to a 50% gross margin. That is very low when you consider what's involved and the fact that they're setting it up on the hoof.

The guy who tweeted it won't have done half as much analysis or thinking about it as you or I have. He's just spouting off because he's got an entitled attitude.

Anyway, it looks like neither of us have enough work to do ;-)
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By romille
It would be easier just to give the parents £11 and tell them to sort it out, but I bet not much of it would be spent filling the belly of the kid it was intended for. We are living in strange times, perhaps folk just need to get on with things and stop bitching.
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By Pete L
Part of the mess we're in was the demand of what were once start-up returns for genuine high risk from very ordinary businesses. That's what sucked the cash (i.e. resilience) out of them.

I think we will have to get used to a slightly more Northern European world of a more equal distribution, deeper savings and lower direct returns. With a bit of luck some of the web intermediaries might fall by the wayside as well taking 25% for the the thick end of b*gger-all.
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By PeterMa
Can only agree the level of ' its so unfair' bleating going on is unbelievable ….. these are not normal times - normal rules don't apply and the sooner people grasp that the better .

Those that feel they are 'owed' something continue to feel they are owed despite efforts going to far better places right now …. I'm in danger of slipping in to a rant .. so I'll leave it there ….
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By PeteSpencer
I was amazed how well the minister of work and pensions on Breakfast BBC, having clearly given the advice from HMG re going to work and use of public transport,when doorstepped and sidestepped into commenting on another Ministers Department, calmly handled the questions.

'Catching politicians out' seems to be a favourite media pastime, moreso in there unusual times: Even in parliament -viz Corbyn's performance at midday in PMQs.

And don't get me going about Ian Blackford
Edit for factual accuracy
Last edited by PeteSpencer on Thu Mar 26, 2020 8:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
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By mikehallam
I want Mr Mainwaring to sort it all out using the oft expressed wish of Private (Don't tell him your name) Pike !

Particularly that negative whining obstructionist of a London Mayor, who is persistent in forcing his own battle of wills against the best needs of the the Country; especially those Londoners who perforce must travel on the Underground.

Why do we have to put up with it ?

I'd fancy Martial Law is one way to ensure willing drivers and station staff can run more trains, and ease the present enforced hugger mugger crowding.