Rashford Calls for Extension of Free School Meals Scheme20 Oct 2020
Star footballer and MBE, Marcus Rashford, relaunched his campaign to extend the Free School Meals scheme over the half-term and Christmas holidays.
Rashford had already campaigned for the extension of the scheme over the summer holidays, forcing the Tory government into a U-Turn following its initial decision on the matter.
With coronavirus numbers rising and many parts of the UK going into lockdown once more, not to mention the continued economic uncertainties facing many people, the ending of the Free School Meals Scheme would put over a million children at risk of malnutrition.
The Free School Meals Scheme Is Due to End for Half-Term and Christmas Holidays
The campaign to extend the Free School Meals scheme was launched by numerous activists, including Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford who successfully led the previous campaign to extend the scheme over the summer holidays.
Rashford had made an impassioned plea to Downing Street to extend the scheme, arguing that as many as 1.3 million children could be left with enough food due to the coronavirus-related economic downturn hitting many low-income families. He noted that he was one such child and explained why schemes such as these are vital for children of poorer families.
With the school holidays nearing once again, Rashford launched a new campaign to pressure the Tories in the government to extend the scheme once more.
The new campaign already gained widespread support, with 300,000 signatories signing his petition ahead of the vote in the Commons on Wednesday.
In a tweet, Rashford said that he has already spoken to a number of MPs, including those who were on free school meals themselves.
He called on all other MPs, especially Tory MPs, to defy Downing Street over the matter and pressure the government to change its stance especially after a spokesperson for the Prime Minister said that it was “not for schools to regularly provide food to pupils during the school holidays.”
Rashford also called on people to contact their local MPs as well as calling on Tory MPs to support the extension of the scheme to show that they care.
“If your MP doesn’t deem providing vulnerable children with vital food resources a priority then you must ask yourself why,” Rashford said.
Rashford’s Campaign Receives Support from Labour
In addition to campaigners and activists, Rashford’s campaign also received support from the opposition Labour Party.
Among those who offered support was Shadow Children’s Minister, Tulip Siddiq.
Siddiq penned an open letter warning that many families are facing severe downturns due to on-going economic uncertainties as a result of the coronavirus outbreak and the replacement of the Job Retention Scheme with the “inadequate” Job Support Scheme.
The Shadow Minister warned that the combination of these issues could see the UK facing unprecedented child malnutrition.
Among other Labour politicians who commented on the matter was former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. Brown called on Boris Johnson to expand the scheme, adding that it would cost about £20 a week to provide worst-off children with free meals.
The Commons will hold a session over the matter on Wednesday.