Britain

‘It’s not over yet’: More pressure on govt over Rashford’s free school meals campaign

Labour is urging the government to continue funding free school meals for vulnerable children over the summer holidays, after footballer Marcus Rashford's plea for the scheme to be extended was rejected.

Opposition MPs will use a debate in parliament today to call for an extension of the free school meal voucher scheme in England.

Manchester United and England striker Rashford called attention to the issue in an open letter on Monday, which was praised by education leaders and teachers' unions.

He said he had used free school meals and food banks as a child, and called on ministers to "find your humanity".

The national voucher system was introduced in March to help low-income families during lockdown, but the government has confirmed this will be for term-time only.

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Nearly 1.3 million children in England are eligible for the vouchers, which are worth £15 per week.

Rashford said he was "blown away with the support" and added that "it's not over yet".

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"We need to be the voice for those 200,000 children who have no choice but to skip meals today, I refuse to give up," he said.

The 22-year-old, who has raised £20m to boost food distribution with the charity FareShare, has been backed by London mayor Sadiq Khan.

Mr Khan wrote on Twitter: "I might be a Londoner and Liverpool fan, but I fully support @ManUtd's @MarcusRashford.

"As a child I benefitted from free school meals. The Government must extend its free school meal scheme for disadvantaged children over the summer holidays. (And his mum should be very proud.)"

We arent beaten yet, stand strong for the 200,000 children who havent had a meal to eat today and keep retweeting 🗣 #maketheUturn

— Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) June 15, 2020

The Labour Party will be calling for the decision to be reversed as part of its Holidays without Hunger campaign.

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