Marcus Rashford, Manchester United star announces alliance with food industry to tackle child food poverty
The England football international has brought together the Child Food Poverty Task Force, with Aldi, Asda, Co-op, Deliveroo, FareShare, Food Foundation, Iceland, Kellogg’s, Lidl, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, and Waitrose.
Rashford said in a letter to MPs that the businesses would be “standing side by side to shed light on the issue of child food poverty in the UK”.
He and the businesses will spend the next six weeks using their platforms to share the stories of those most
affected by child food insecurity.
The group is also endorsing three policy recommendations from the National Food Strategy:
* Expansion of free school meals to every child from a household on universal credit or equivalent, reaching an additional 1.5 million children aged between seven and 16
* Expansion of holiday provision (food and activities) to support all children on free school meals, reaching an additional 1.1 million children
* Increasing the value of the Healthy Start vouchers to £4.25 per week (from £3.10) and expanding into all those on universal credit or equivalent, reaching an additional 290,000 pregnant women and children under the age of four
* Earlier this year Manchester United star Rashford, 22, successfully lobbied the government to provide free school meals for underprivileged pupils during the summer holidays.
Ministers had been planning to scrap the £15-a-week voucher scheme, which was launched during the coronavirus lockdown to make up for free meals pupils would normally get at school.
The government’s dramatic U-turn came after Rashford, from Wythenshawe in Manchester, wrote to them to explain how the system supported him during his schooling and to urge them to carry it on.
He received a phone call from Prime Minister Boris Johnson and after teaming up with food waste charity FareShare went on to raise £20m – or 3.9 million meals – for the UK’s most vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Tuesday he said: “As a sportsman, I have always found such power in unity and teamwork, and I’m thrilled that such influential voices have put any allegiance aside to join me on my mission to move the conversation of child food poverty forward.”
He said 4.2 million children were living in poverty in the UK prior to COVID-19 and this was expected to have risen, adding: “The time for action is now.
“I’m proud and I’m humbled to see such a reaction and commitment from the food industry, and I am confident that together we can help change the lives of those most vulnerable for the better.”