Rashford thanks businesses for free school meals

Cheryl Sanders
October 23, 2020

The Manchester United striker, who was awarded an MBE for his campaign to ensure school meals for youngsters during lockdown said he was blown away by news of local businesses stepping up to fill the voucher scheme deficit during the October half term.

"Now I have no doubt that Mr Rashford is an expert in his own experience, but we should not forget that the experiences he so movingly described took place under a Labour government then supposedly at the peak of its powers in tackling child poverty in this country".

It said it had given councils £63m for families facing financial difficulties due to pandemic restrictions and had increased welfare support by £9.3bn.

It is essential the Government provides this support urgently, ' shadow education secretary Kate Green said.

The pair visited FareShare Greater Manchester's new food depot at New Smithfield Market, which will be named after Rashford's mum Melanie.

But the take of some Conservative politicians, including Mansfield MP Ben Bradley, who argued that extending free school meals into the holidays "increases dependency", prompted a call from Rashford for a more "humane response".

The council said 22,000 children in Sheffield are now in receipt of free school meals and will receive a voucher, meaning a total cost to the local authority of £330,000.

Oldham Council is supporting Marcus Rashford's campaign to provide free school meals during school holidays for those most in need.

Andy Street, the Conservative Mayor of the West Midlands, said the Government should have led a national approach, adding: "It should not be a last-minute thing, this should be planned for, there should be a national approach on this".

Conservative-controlled Kensington and Chelsea Council and Staffordshire County Council are promising a £15 voucher to the families of as many as 3,300 and 18,000 children respectively for food or essential supplies during the break.

The government got their way with a 61 majority saying that low income families were already being offered enough support from various government sources.

"We've had a situation where children are... have been going hungry... under a Labour government... for years", Scully replied.

"We know a number of organisations and businesses are also looking to help and we thank them for schemes they are involved in and we would call on others to think of doing something similar".

An online petition started by Rashford has gathered over 300,000 signatures, demanding urgent action to stop children going hungry.

Deputy leader Angela Rayner, set to lead the debate for Labour on the motion, said: "This vote is about our values as a country and whether the government, in the middle of this crisis, is happy to let our children go hungry".

A motion to feed more than 1.4 million children during school breaks until Easter next year was voted down in Parliament on Wednesday evening.

"We must also seek to address the issues which fuel demand for free school meals", he added.

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