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Marcus Rashford calls on the government not to drop free school meals

Marcus Rashford has called on the government not to drop free school meal vouchers during the summer.

The Manchester United and England player has raised £20m to supply three million meals to vulnerable people, whilst dedicating his service to the charity FareShare UK during the covid-19 lockdown.

Campaigners have threatened to bring legal action against the government, for not extending the food voucher scheme into the summer holidays.

In an open letter to MPs, Rashford draws on his own experiences of relying on free school meals and food banks growing up.

In the letter, Rashford wrote: "My mum worked full-time, earning the minimum wage, to make sure we always had a good evening meal on the table, but it was not enough. The system was not built for families like mine to succeed, regardless of how hard my mum worked."

The footballer demands the government to "make the U-turn and make protecting the lives of some of our most vulnerable a top priority".

The Department for Education confirmed the scheme would not run during summer holidays.

"As schools open more widely, and their kitchens reopen, we expect schools to make food parcels available for collection or delivery for any children that are eligible for free school meals who are not yet able to return to school. Where this is not possible, schools can continue to offer vouchers to eligible pupils.

However, the spokesperson outlined a new £63m local authority welfare assistance scheme to support the most vulnerable families, and its Holiday Activities and Food programme, which offers activities and free meals in the summer holidays.

Families claiming free school meals have been issued with either an electronic voucher or gift card - worth £15 per child, per week - to spend at supermarkets, while schools have been closed.

Rashford wrote: "Political affiliations aside, can we not all agree that no child should be going to be hungry?"

"I would be doing myself, my family and my community an injustice if I didn't stand here today with my voice and my platform and ask you for help," he said.


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