‘This is not going away … and neither am I’: England’s Marcus Rashford savages Downing Street after it dismisses call for free school meals over Christmas and suggests parents claim benefits instead
- The Manchester United striker took aim at Boris Johnson ‘s administration today
- It suggested parents struggling to feed their children should claim benefits
- No10: ‘It’s not for schools to regularly provide food during the school holidays’
- Rashford: ‘It’s also not for food banks to feed millions of children but here we are’
England ace Marcus Rashford lashed out at the Government today over school meals for poor pupils today after No10 said it was not schools’ ‘job’ to feed hungry children over the holidays.
The Manchester United striker took aim at Boris Johnson’s administration after it suggested parents struggling to feed their children because of the coronavirus economic damage and lockdowns should claim benefits.
The 22-year old, who was awarded an MBE last week for his work on food poverty, took to Twitter to blast the miserly approach – which comes after billions has been spend on a test and trace system that barely works.
It comes after the England footballer forced a Government U-turn on free school meal vouchers for eligible pupils over the summer holidays.
But addressing reporters this afternoon, a No10 spokesman indicated ministers would not provide free school meals to children during the Easter and Christmas breaks.
‘We took that decision to extend free school meals during the pandemic when schools were partially closed during lockdown. We’re in a different position now with schools back open to all pupils,’ he said.
‘It’s not for schools to regularly provide food to pupils during the school holidays. We believe the best way to support families outside of term time is through Universal Credit rather than Government subsidising meals.’
In response, Mr Rashford said: ‘Merry Christmas kids… It’s also not for food banks to feed millions of British children but here we are.
‘(A) 250 per cent increase in food poverty and rising… This is not going away anytime soon and neither am I…’
Marcus Rashford (in action for England last night) has called on the public to support him in his bid to end child food poverty
The football star, who has won plaudits from fans across the game for his action on food poverty, has launched a petition urging the Government to act now to end it.
The Manchester United and England striker is pressing ministers to go further in tackling child hunger.
The parliamentary petition is calling for three policy recommendations by the National Food Strategy to be made without delay – including expanding free school meals to all households on Universal Credit.
‘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.
Since his summer campaign, Rashford has formed a child food poverty task force which has linked up with some of the UK’s biggest supermarkets and food brands.
The star said: ‘Right now, a generation who have already been penalised during this pandemic with lack of access to educational resources are now back in school struggling to concentrate due to worry and the sound of their rumbling stomachs.
‘Whatever your feeling, opinion, or judgment, food poverty is never the child’s fault. Let’s protect our young. Let’s wrap arms around each other and stand together to say that this is unacceptable, that we are united in protecting our children.’
The campaign comes as charity Food Foundation has released data which suggests nearly a fifth (18 per cent) of eight to 17-year-olds reported experiences of food insecurity over the summer holidays.
Extrapolated to reflect the UK population, this suggests 1.4 million children are experiencing food insecurity.
Rashford was disappointed by Gavin Williamson’s dismissive written reply to his plea for help
Rashford’s school meals campaign saw him take on the Government and win earlier this year
Rashford said: ‘Today, millions of children are finding themselves in the most vulnerable of environments and are beginning to question what it really means to be British.
‘I’m calling on you all today to help me prove to them that being British is something to be proud of.’
The other two demands in the petition include expanding school holiday food and activities programmes to more families and increasing the value of Healthy Start vouchers to £4.25 per week (from £3.10).
The Food Foundation survey, of more than 1,000 children, found 6% were worried about going hungry during the October half-term, and 11% said either they or their families had visited a foodbank in the summer break.
Anna Taylor, executive director of Food Foundation, said: ‘School holidays are a financial pressure point which many families just can’t afford at the moment. Hunger does not take a holiday.
‘The Government needs to put in place a permanent solution to school holiday hunger and implement the recommendations in the National Food Strategy.
‘While children have been spared the virus, they have not been spared it’s economic impacts and we must act to protect them.’
Source: Read Full Article