Footballer Marcus Rashford has launched a new government petition calling for more of the UK’s children to be eligible for free school meals
Professional footballer Marcus Rashford has launched a new government petition calling for more of the UK’s children to be eligible for free school meals after successfully lobbying ministers earlier this year.
The Manchester United star, who is age 22, wants to extend the free school meals program to every child from a household that is on Universal Credit or an equivalent benefit, which he has claimed will reach 1.5 million seven to 16-year-olds who are currently missing out on the support.
This comes after about 1.3 million children were able to get free school meal vouchers during the summer holidays, following a campaign by the Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford.
Rashford is also calling for Healthy Start vouchers to increase from £3.10 a week to £4.25, which are vouchers that offer free milk and produce to pregnant mothers and families with young children.
Thirdly he wants to make sure that all families with children on free school meals get the necessary support with food and activities that is needed for them during the holidays.
Rashford, who has received an MBE in the Queen’s honours list, had previously achieved a government U-turn on their handling of school meals in the summer of this year.
Rashford said: “For too long this conversation has been delayed. Child food poverty in the UK is not a result of COVID-19.”
“In 2020, no child 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.”
“Let’s wrap arms around each other and stand together to say this is unacceptable, that we are united in protecting our children.”
Actress Emma Thompson, who is an ambassador for the Children’s Right2Food Campaign, added:
“In the sixth richest economy in the world these figures speak for themselves.”
“There is absolutely no need for any child to go hungry in the UK.”
“The fact that they are and in increasing numbers suggests cracks in a broken food system that can and must be repaired as a matter of the utmost urgency.”
This comes after it was revealed that international football star Cristiano Ronaldo has tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Portuguese Football Federation (PFF).
A government spokesperson said: “We have taken substantial action to make sure children and families do not go hungry by extending free school meals when schools closed, increasing welfare support by £9.3bn, and giving councils £63 million to provide emergency support to families for food and other essentials.”
“We also appreciate it has been a challenging time for families, which is why we have increased the safety net available to them with income protection schemes, mortgage holidays and support for renters.”
“We are grateful to Marcus Rashford for his work shining a light on the significant challenges families are facing at this time.”