Marcus Rashford keeps the ball rolling on his campaign to end child hunger today with a petition demanding that the Government raise its game.
The Manchester United and England footballer, 22, wants an expansion of free school meals to cover every child from a family on Universal Credit – reaching 1.5 million more seven to 16-year-olds.
His new Parliamentary petition also calls for better support to end the scandal of kids on free school meals going hungry in holidays.
And it demands Healthy Start vouchers rise from £3.10 per week to £4.25, reaching 290,000 more pregnant women and children under four.
Rashford, recently made an MBE for his campaigning, said: “For too long this conversation has been delayed. Child food poverty is not a result of Covid-19.
“We must act with urgency to stabilise the households of our vulnerable children.
“In 2020, no child in the UK should be going to bed hungry, nor should they be sat in class 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, they are met with anxiety.”
The star’s End Child Food Poverty campaign is backed by the Child Food Poverty Task Force he set up – featuring brands including Aldi, Tesco and Deliveroo – and 20 charities.
A new survey from the Food Foundation reveals 18 per cent of eight to 17-year-olds reported having less to eat over the summer holidays.
Around 11 per cent in the age group – some 850,000 kids – said either they or their families had visited a foodbank in the summer holidays. And 6.3 per cent worry they will end up hungry during the October half-term.
Rashford, who drove the extent of the crisis home in a social media message, added: “Whatever your feeling, opinion, or judgement, 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 this is unacceptable, we are united in protecting our children.”
The footballer welcomed the Welsh Government’s decision to provide free school meals during school holidays until Easter next year.
Education minister Kirsty Williams said yesterday £11million had been made available.
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