Marcus Rashford is leading a huge campaign to end child food poverty in the UK, telling the Government ‘the time for action is now’.
The Manchester United striker, who earlier this year forced Boris Johnson into a spectacular U-turn over extending free school meals into the summer holidays, has joined forces with many of the
UK’s major supermarkets and food retailers to call for the creation of a ‘National Food Strategy’.
It would see a major expansion of free school meals, school holiday support and the Healthy Start voucher scheme in a bid to ensure no child goes hungry.
Wythenshawe -raised Rashford, 22, has written to every MP in the country urging them to back the campaign.
In the powerful letter he writes of meeting the mother of two young sons living off three slices of bread a day, which she she soaks them in hot water and sugar, hoping that the ‘porridge consistency might better sustain the hunger of her one-year old child’.
He also tells of speaking a family who were all sleeping on one mattress on the floor, as they’d sold everything else of value to put food on the table.
‘This is the true reality of England in 2020’, he tells MPs.
The letter adds: “Within two days of sitting with these families, I could better understand how food poverty is contributing to social unrest.
“Watching a young boy keeping it together whilst his mother sobbed alongside him, feeling like he has to step up to protect his family and alleviate some of that worry. He was nine-years-old…
“I know that feeling. I remember the sound of my mum crying herself to sleep to this day, having worked a 14-hour shift, unsure how she was going to make ends meet.
“That was my reality and thankfully I had the talent to kick a ball around to pull us all out of that situation. Many can’t find that way out and aren’t being offered a helping hand to do so.
“Those most at risk aren’t in a position and don’t have the platform to scream help from the top of the rooftops but, for those ready to speak, my intention is to offer them the platform to do so, and for those who aren’t, I will continue to be their voice and act on their behalf.”
Alongside Aldi, Asda, Co-op, Deliveroo, FareShare, Food Foundation, Iceland, Kellogg’s, Lidl, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose and Rashford has formed the ‘Child Food Poverty Task Force’.
It’s calling on the Chancellor Rishi Sunak to fund free school meals for every child from a household on Universal Credit or equivalent, which would be additional 1.5m seven-16 year olds; Expand food and activities holiday provision for all children on free school meals, reaching an additional 1.1million children and increase Healthy Start vouchers from £3.10 to £4.25 per week and expand the scheme to include all those on Universal Credit or equivalent, reaching an extra 290,000 pregnant women and children under the age of four.