George Freeman, MP for Mid Norfolk since 2010, has praised Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford’s successful school meals campaign.
Rashford, 22, had pushed for a continuation of free meals over the summer holidays for vulnerable children who had been receiving them during the coronavirus lockdown. It had been decided by the Government to end the scheme, which could potentially cater for 1.3 million children, at the end of term time. However, it was announced yesterday that the scheme would continue during the holidays in the form of a six-week voucher.
Speaking on the subject, Freeman tweeted: “What an inspirational young Brit Marcus Rashford is… The Covid crisis demands special interventions. Adequate nutrition should be a fundamental basic for every child in our country”. He later added in another tweet: “Free School Meals are a lifeline for many low income families”.
Rashford has welcomed the U-turn by the British Government, saying: “Look at what we can do when we come together”. An open letter penned by the Manchester United forward was delivered to MPs on Monday. It drew upon his own experiences of relying on free school meals and food banks growing up and also asked others to think about struggling parents who have had their “water turned off” and whose children have gone hungry during the pandemic.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the move was a “welcome U-turn” and Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised Rashford for his “contribution to the debate around poverty”.
The scheme will cost roughly £120m and works out to about £15 a week per recipient. It is most needed, as shown by figures in 2019, in parts of London, the north and Midlands, whilst 15.4% of state-educated pupils were eligible.
The U-turn has been welcomed by most and the scheme now looks set to support families who are most in need during a period of great uncertainty and financial difficulty.