The UK Government have U-turned on plans to discontinue the free school meal vouchers awarded to families who are likely to struggle financially to feed their children. The new U-Turn from the government will ensure that 1.3 million children will now be given vouchers to last them the summer holidays.
The decision comes after pressure from Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford, who has campaigned vigorouslyin the last few days for the scheme to continue into the summer months.
In a letter to MPs, he reflected on his own upbringing in Manchester and the struggles that saw his mother work full time for the minimum wage to feed him and his family. Rashford implored MPs to continue providing the vouchers so that children of limited financial means could be fed.
An Open Letter to all MPs in Parliament…#maketheUturn
Please retweet and tag your local MPs pic.twitter.com/GXuUxFJdcv
— Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) June 14, 2020
The letter follows up on Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer’s call to continue the scheme at last week’s Prime Minister’s Questions. The government initially rejected both – instead they announced a £63 million package for communities in need of funding to allow for children to get the food they needed.
However, critics pointed out that this was not enough to ensure that every child going hungry would receive such benefits. Continued pressure from MPs on both sides of the chamber culminated in a U-Turn that will now see £120 million go towards extending the scheme. Without the efforts of Rashford, this may have fallen on deaf ears.
Rashford had already been assisting efforts to ensure children are fed in the last few months, as the Covid-19 pandemic dramatically lowered many household’s incomes. In partnering with FareShare, he has provided 3 million meals a week to children who have been forced to skip meals as a result of the current crisis. His call for party politics to be put aside on this issue certainly strengthened the case that he and other politicians were able to make to the government.
I don’t even know what to say.
Just look at what we can do when we come together, THIS is England in 2020.
— Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) June 16, 2020
A spokesperson for Boris Johnson stated that the Prime Minister welcomed the contribution from someone with a high profile. Rashford expressed his joy at the U-Turn, tweeting: ‘Just look what we can do when we come together.’