The UK government will be extending its free school meal voucher scheme for a £120 million Summer Food Fund, following a campaign by footballer Marcus Rashford.
The Manchester United striker had vowed to continue pushing the government to provide free school meal vouchers to stop vulnerable children from going hungry during the coronavirus lockdown, particularly during the school summer holidays, and used his own experience as a youngster to fuel the campaign.
In an emotional open letter to 650 MPs, the 22-year-old wrote: “My story to get here is all-too-familiar for families in England: my mum worked full-time, earning minimum wage to make sure we always had a good evening meal on the table. But it was not enough. The system was not built for families like mine to succeed, regardless of how hard my mum worked.
I don’t even know what to say.
Just look at what we can do when we come together, THIS is England in 2020.
— Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) June 16, 2020
“As a family, we relied on breakfast clubs, free school meals, and the kind actions of neighbours and coaches. Food banks and soup kitchens were not alien to us; I recall very clearly our visits to Northern Moor to collect our Christmas dinners every year.
“It’s only now that I really understand the enormous sacrifice my mum made in sending me away to live in digs aged 11, a decision no mother would ever make lightly.”
You can read the full letter here:
An Open Letter to all MPs in Parliament…#maketheUturn
Please retweet and tag your local MPs pic.twitter.com/GXuUxFJdcv
— Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) June 14, 2020
Initially, his pleas were rejected by the government who refused to extend the voucher scheme but it seems that they have now U-turned on the decision following his demands.
In an article he wrote for The Times, Rashford said: “Today I focus on a trophy that stands for something much bigger than football.
“A U-turn on the decision to stop the free food voucher scheme continuing over the summer holidays could help us reach the next round but we still have a very long way to go as a country to eventually lift the trophy.
“In this case, the trophy is combating child poverty.”
The sportsman is an active supporter of a charity called FareShare, which is the UK’s longest running food redistribution organisation.
They predicted earlier today that more children could face hunger and malnutrition in July and August than ever before, because the safety net of free school meals disappears during the holidays – until now.
Well done, Marcus Rashford.