Rashford: Don't blind your eyes to meals poverty
Marcus Rashford warned MPs to keep an eye on vulnerable families as the House of Commons prepared to vote on a Labor call to extend free school meals over the holidays.
The 22-year-old, who was recently awarded an MBE for his work on combating child poverty, has proposed extending free school lunches for those with universal credit or equivalent to mid-term and the Christmas break.
This move was rejected by the government, but the Labor Party has called on Conservative MPs to oppose No. 10 and support the proposals that an additional 1.5 million children between the ages of seven and 16 could receive extra out-of-office assistance.
Today we pay close attention to the commons and to those who are willing to ignore the needs of our most vulnerable children. 2.2 million of them currently qualify for free school meals. 42% newly registered. Not to mention the 1.5 million children who are currently not qualifying.
– Marcus Rashford MBE (@MarcusRashford) October 21, 2020
Rashford said he would "pay close attention" to the vote and urged his 3.4 million Twitter followers to stand up for MPs to support his campaign.
He said: "We are paying close attention today to the Commons and those willing to ignore the needs of our most vulnerable children. 2.2 million of them are currently qualifying for free school meals."
Rashford said the economic blow from the coronavirus pandemic had made the situation worse than it was when the crisis began.
"We're not in the same position as we were in the summer, it's a lot worse," he added.
"The number of children with little to no access to food has increased significantly."
Conservative MP Robert Halfon, chair of the Commons Education Select Committee, urged the government to continue providing meals over the holidays amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis and urged ministers to work with Rashford.
In the House of Commons, however, Boris Johnson continued to oppose calls for additional assistance, insisting that assistance from benefits remains the best way to help those in need.
"We support low-income children in school and we will continue to do so," he told MPs when asked by the Prime Minister.
"But the most important thing is to keep her in school and not demolish into some other national lock that will get her out of school.
"We will continue to use the benefit system and all income systems to support children during the holidays."
Rashford launched an online petition last week calling on the government to make three commitments to support vulnerable children through the #endchildfoodpoverty campaign.
The campaign is supported by the Rashford-founded Child Food Poverty Task Force and 20 other charities and key names in the food industry.
He forced the government to turn around in July when he won his battle to provide free meals during the school summer vacation, and he will hope for a similar outcome this time around.
Rashford: You don't know how it affects people if you haven't been through it.
Rashford, who grew up in one of the poorest areas of Manchester, knows all too well the impact food poverty can have.
"You don't know how this affects people if you haven't been through it," he told Sky Sports News in an exclusive interview in June.
“I've seen firsthand how it can get out of hand. People can take to the streets if they don't eat for days.
"It was not just nutritional status I was thinking about as I raised awareness, but also mental health – the general well-being of people and families.
"It might not seem like a big deal, but if you don't eat the right amount of meals every day, it can have a real impact on your life."
Read the whole story here