Manchester United and England forward star Marcus Rashford wasn’t happy about how the authorities denied him a chance to extend his free school meals project in the UK, and now he has launched an online petition.
Rashford took on the decision after the Government rejected his calls to extend the free school meals scheme to include half-term and Christmas holidays.
The campaign is supported by the Child Food Poverty Task Force, which was formed by Rashford, as well as a further 20 charities and key names in the food industry. Rashford took to Twitter to make his statement clear about the increase in food poverty and how he’s not giving up on the fight. The tweet read:
Merry Christmas kids…
It’s also not for food banks to feed millions of British children but here we are. 250% increase in food poverty and rising… This is not going away anytime soon and neither am I… — Marcus Rashford MBE (@MarcusRashford) October 15, 2020
Rashford has been very vocal and active about his free meals project and has taken a stance in making sure the government takes the issue seriously. He was also recently awarded an MBE for his work in tackling child poverty, which forced a government U-turn in July when he won his battle to ensure the provision of free meals during the school summer holidays.
However, recently things took a different turn after his proposal was turned down by the government, which later confirmed on Thursday that they had no plans to offer further support for the initiative.
“We took that decision to extend free school meals during the pandemic when schools were partially closed during the lockdown. We are in a different position now with schools back open to all pupils,” said a Government spokesperson.
“It’s not for schools to provide food to pupils during the school holidays. We believe the best way to support families outside of term times is through Universal Credit, rather than schools subsidising meals.
Marcus Rashford is not giving up on the anti-poverty campaign
Rashford is not going to let it go and will not give up on the anti-poverty campaign until he finds a way to force the government to change its decision on making free meals available to school children during the holidays.
The online petition launched the Man United player is calling upon the government to allocate a sufficient budget to the three National Food Strategy recommendations, as part of an urgent recovery package for vulnerable children this autumn.
The recommendations are:
- Expansion of free school meals to every child from a household on Universal Credit or equivalent, reaching an additional 1.5m children aged between seven and 16
- Expansion of holiday provision (food and activities) to support all children on free school meals, reaching an additional 1.1m children
- Increasing the value of the Healthy Start vouchers to £4.25 per week (from £3.10) and expanding into all those on Universal Credit or equivalent, reaching an additional 290,000 pregnant women and children under the age of four
“For too long this conversation has been delayed. Child food poverty in the UK is not a result of Covid-19. We must act with urgency to stabilise the households of our vulnerable children,” Rashford said as the petition was launched.
“In 2020, no child in the UK should be going to bed hungry, nor should they be sat in classrooms concerned about how their younger siblings are going to eat that day, or how they are going to access food come the holidays. The school holidays used to be a highlight of the year for children. Today, it is met with anxiety from those as young as seven years old.”
Best of luck to the forward, who seems ready to hold onto his promise to help end food poverty. Only if Uganda sportsmen and women can borrow a leaf from him too.
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Author: Allan Bangirana
Allan Bangirana is a freelance writer for Newslibre & Spur Magazine. He is passionate about tech, games and occasionally writes about entertainment, lifestyle and so much more.