Manchester United Striker Marcus Rashford has vowed not to give up after Prime Minister Boris Johnson rejected his plea to extend the free school voucher scheme for low-income families over the summer holidays.
On Monday morning the Manchester United and England player pleaded with MPs to make a U-turn and extend the national voucher scheme, which was introduced in March to help poorer families in the UK feed their children during school closures due to lockdown.
In his letter the 22-year-old revealed that he and his family once relied on breakfast clubs and free school meals and that “food banks and soup kitchens were not alien” to them.
Rashford has also raised £20 million for food distribution charity Fareshare, which is providing three million meals a week to vulnerable families during the pandemic.
However Downing Street has confirmed that the scheme, which entitles low-income families to £15 supermarket vouchers each week, will be ending when the school term finishes.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said, “The PM understands the issues facing families across the UK, which is why last week the government announced an additional £63m for local authorities to benefit families who are struggling to afford food and other basic essentials.
“The PM will respond to Marcus Rashford’s letter as soon as he can – he has been using his profile in a positive way to highlight some very important issues.”
According to the Liverpool Echo, a Department for Education spokesperson said: “As schools open more widely, and their kitchens are open, we expect schools to make food parcels available for collection or delivery for any children that are eligible for free school meals who are not yet able to return to school. Where this is not possible, schools can continue to offer vouchers to eligible pupils.
The spokesperson explained that free school meals are ordinarily for term time only but the local authority welfare scheme will help provide food to families that are struggling over the summer.
“Thousands of children will also receive additional support through our Holiday Activities and Food programme, which offers activities and free meals throughout the summer holidays.”
However the Labour Party have warned that the funding is not nearly enough to cover the estimated £115 million costs of delivering free school meals.