Hungry children - Free school meals
Marcus Rashford has continued his campaign to provide meals for children during school holidays. The Manchester United footballer wants meals to be provided for children during all school holidays. He quoted ‘I want no child to go hungry’.
This has expanded to provide meals for children who would have received free school meals if they were at school but are now at home due to the lockdown.
Nearly 900,000 people have signed a petition, created by the Manchester United footballer, to expand access to free school meals and also provide meals during all holidays for those in need.
Marcus’s response to hearing news that schools were closing was “what are the kids going to eat?”. “If they’re not at school and breakfast clubs are closed, how are they going to get fed?”
Many senior Tories have criticised the government’s opinion, one of them suggested that Number 10 is wrong on this matter not to feed the hungry children.
Councils including Birmingham and Liverpool are with those who have responded to Rashford's campaign by providing thousands of children with food parcels and vouchers last half term.
Some small businesses and organisations around the country have also stepped up to help.
Conservative MPs have also faced anger from some of their supporters over the issue .
Dozens of empty plates with messages on were left outside the office of Sir David Amess - one of the Tory MPs who helped defeat Labour’s call for free school meals to be provided during holidays until Easter.
Some Tories are uneasy at the government's refusal to budge, "Free school meals is just one of those totemic things - it is like the NHS, it can do no wrong,"
After initially objecting for many weeks the government made a second U-turn, offering a £400m holiday meal and activity programme to support low-income families in England until the end of 2021. In announcing the current lockdown, the prime minister resisted reopening this debate, by announcing free school meals to be provided as a matter of course.
However the quality and quantity of the food provided to children by the private companies given the job has been very poor. Schools could now choose to issue vouchers to the parents of children on free school meals so they can buy the food themselves.
As a result of the criticism one private company involved has said they will now improve the food provided as well as include breakfast in the food parcel.
According to official pre-pandemic figures, about 1.4 million children in England are on free school meals. About 900,000 more children may now be able to get free school meals since March