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Marcus Rashford: how a 22-year-old footballer brought school meals to 1.3 million children in the U.K

by Erin Lindsay
17th Jun 2020

The government were persuaded after Rashford penned an open letter describing his own experiences with meal vouchers

Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford has become a local hero in the U.K after persuading the government to reverse their decision on free school meal vouchers.

During the Covid-19 lockdown in the U.K, the government has been providing meal vouchers to families whose children qualify for free meals to spend in supermarkets, but had previously said this would not continue outside of term time.

Manchester United and England forward Rashford then penned an open letter to MP’s urging them to reconsider the decision, and talked about his own experiences of relying on free school meals as a child.

“My story to get here is all-too-familiar for families in England,” Rashford wrote. “My mum worked full-time, earning 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.”

Since lockdown began, Rashford has worked with charity FareShare UK to raise about £20m to supply three million meals to vulnerable families around the U.K. And now, his work to lobby the U.K government has ensured that 1.3 million children across the U.K will be able to claim school meals this summer.

At yesterday’s daily Covid-19 briefing at Downing Street, Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised Rashford’s campaign and thanked him for his work. “Clearly free schools meals should generally apply in term time… but we have to understand the pressure that families are under right now,” he said.

“It will help the kids from the families that really need it.”

When the decision was announced, Rashford simply said on Twitter: “just look at what we can do when we all come together”.

He then penned a short note to MP’s, stating that he was ‘thankful’ that the decision had given families ‘one less thing to worry about’.

Featured image: Marcus Rashford via Instagram