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Man Utd's Rashford pleads with UK government to continue free meals in open letter

5 months ago
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Marcus Rashford published an open letter to members of the House of Commons, calling for the school food scheme to be extended.

Manchester United star Marcus Rashford wrote a personal letter to parliament, asking the United Kingdom government to continue providing free meals for vulnerable children.

Rashford has helped charity FareShare reach its goal of supplying three million meals to vulnerable people in the UK by the end of the June amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The UK government is set to stop a food voucher scheme, which was set up to guarantee meals to children when schools were shut down in March, next month.

United and England forward Rashford published an open letter to members of the House of Commons, calling for the scheme to be extended.

"The Government has taken a 'whatever it takes' approach to the economy – I'm asking you today to extend that same thinking to protecting all vulnerable children across England," the 22-year-old wrote.

"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 and guarantee the extension. This is England in 2020, and this is an issue that needs urgent assistance.

"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."

"This summer should have been filled with pride once more, parents and children waving their flags," he said. "But, in reality, Wembley Stadium could be filled more than twice with children who have had to skip meals during lockdown - 200,000 children according to Food Foundation estimates.

"As their stomachs grumble, I wonder if those 200,000 children will ever be proud enough of their country to pull on the England national team shirt one day and sing the National Anthem from the stands. Ten years ago, I would have been one of those children, and you would never have heard my voice and seen my determination to become part of the solution.

"… This is not about politics, this is about humanity. Looking at ourselves in the mirror and feeling like we did everything we could to protect those who can't, for whatever reason or circumstance, protect themselves. Political affiliations aside, can we not all agree that no child should be going to bed hungry?

"Food poverty in England is a pandemic that could span generations if we don't course correct now. Whilst 1.3 million children in England are registered for free school meals, one quarter of these children have not been given any support since the school closures were ordered.

"We rely on parents, many of whom have seen their jobs evaporate due to Covid-19, to play substitute teacher during lockdown, hoping that their children are going to be focused enough to learn, with only a small percentage of their nutritional needs met during this period.

"This is a system failure and without education, we're encouraging this cycle of hardship to continue. To put this pandemic in to perspective, from 2018/2019, nine out of 30 children in any given classroom were living in poverty in the UK. This figure is expected to rise by an additional one million by 2022. In England today, 45 per cent of children in Black and minority ethnic groups are now in poverty. This is England in 2020."

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