Manchester United and England forward Marcus Rashford has stepped up his campaign for the government to fund free meals for struggling children through the summer, support he himself had to rely on as a boy.
The 22-year-old striker has helped to raise around 20 million pounds ($25 million) with charity FareShare UK to supply meals to those families who are “existing on a knife’s edge”. He wants the government’s food voucher scheme to continue when the schools are shut in the summer.
Of the 1.3 million children who are registered for free school meals in England, a quarter have not received any support since schools closed in response to COVID-19, he said.
“As a family, we relied on breakfast clubs, free school meals, and the kind actions of neighbours and coaches,” he wrote in a letter to the government posted on Twitter.
“Food banks and soup kitchens were not alien to us; I recall very clearly our visits to Northern Moor to collect our Christmas dinners every year.”
Wow, just got home from training and I’m blown away with the support. It’s not over yet, let’s keep retweeting and tagging local MPs. 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 ? #maketheUturn
— Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) June 15, 2020
As a black man from a low income family in Manchester, Rashford wrote that he could have been just another statistic. Instead, due to the support of his mum and his community, he is known for the goals he scores and the England caps he has won.
“Do you know how much courage it takes for a grown man to say, ‘I can’t cope’ or ‘I can’t support my family?’ Men, women, caregivers, are calling out for our help and we aren’t listening,” he said.
A spokesman for Boris Johnson said the prime minister would respond as soon as he could. He added that the government had agreed to give 63 million pounds to local authorities to help families in need.
“He (Rashford) has been using his profile in a positive way to highlight some very important issues,” he added.
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
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.) https://t.co/5m4dpHv6Y5
— Mayor of London (gov.uk/coronavirus) (@MayorofLondon) June 15, 2020