Just days after starting his campaign to pressure the Government to provide free school meals to disadvantaged pupils in England during the summer holidays, footballer Marcus Rashford has scored a victory which sees Boris Johnson performing a U-turn by pledging £120 million to the issue.
At the beginning of lockdown, the rising Manchester United star, teamed up with FareShare, the UK’s largest charity that fights hunger, to distributes food to children who would otherwise miss out on getting free school meals during the lockdown. The generous striker even donated some of his own money to help cover some costs.
Earlier this week, in a now viral tweet, Marcus Radford shared his open letter to all MPs asking parliament to reverse its decision to stop free school meals during the summer. Calling on his followers to retweet and tag their local MP, the tweet received more than 160,000 retweets and continues to receive praise from MPs across parties.
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
In his two-page letter, Marcus appealed to MP’s shared-humanity and not their opposing-political affiliations posing the question, “Can we not all agree that no child should be going to bed hungry?”
“I’m asking you today to extend that same thinking to protecting all vulnerable children across England. I encourage you to hear their pleas and find your humanity. Please reconsider your decision to cancel the food voucher scheme over the summer holiday period and guarantee the extension… Please, while the eyes of the nation are on you, make the U-turn and make protecting the lives of some of our most vulnerable a top priority,” the letter went on.
Boris Johnson initially rejected Rashford’s calls for a U-turn but under public pressure he has now relented and promised £120 million to a COVID summer food fund that will serve children nationwide.
This issue is one close to Rashford’s heart. He grew up in financial poverty, on a Manchester council estate with his loving mum, Melanie Rashford, and although he has now become a premiership footballer, he’s never forgotten his roots.
In an interview on The Official Manchester United Podcast, Marcus said: “We don’t know how long this is going to go one for, and it’s just something that if this had happened 10 or 15 years ago, it definitely would have affected the position that I was in when I was a kid.”
“…if this had happened 10 or 15 years ago, it definitely would have affected the position that I was in when I was a kid.”
“As a family, we relied on breakfast clubs, free school meals, and the kind actions of neighbours and coaches. 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. It’s only now that I really understand the enormous sacrifice my mum made in sending me away to live in digs aged 11, a decision no mother would ever make lightly,” he wrote in the open letter.
Demonstrating the importance of giving back, explained why he felt the need to act. He said:
“As a Black man from a low-income family in Wythenshawe, Manchester, I could have been just another statistic. Instead, due to the selfless actions of my mum, my family, my neighbours, and my coaches, the only stats I’m associated with are goals, appearances and caps. 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.”
Thank you, Marcus Rashford!