Peterborough MPs praise footballer Marcus Rashford’s free meals campaign

Marcus RashfordMarcus Rashford
Marcus Rashford
Peterborough’s MPs have praised footballer Marcus Rashford’s free school meals campaign after the Prime Minister agreed to extend the scheme into the summer.

About 1.3m children in Britain will now be eligible for free school meal vouchers following the Government U-turn after the campaign by footballer Marcus Rashford.

Both of Peterborough’s Conservative MPs welcomed the news and applauded the 22-year old Manchester United and England star for his initiative.

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Paul Bristow, Member of Parliament for Peterborough said: “Fair play to Marcus Rashford – he has spoken out for those who are less fortunate and I am so proud that this Government has listened.

“Peterborough is winning the battle against this horrible virus – but many families across Peterborough are under severe financial pressure. They face an uncertain future, and some are struggling because of the pandemic.

“The £15 per week vouchers have made a real difference for those eligible children who have not been in school. As we approach the summer holidays, we must make sure children aren’t at risk of going hungry.

“Marcus Rashford was absolutely right – this is not about politics but about vulnerable families. The announcement of the Summer Food Fund for this year shows what we can achieve when we all come together”.

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Shailesh Vara, Member of Parliament for North West Cambridgeshire commented: “I know that a number of local families are keen for the free school meals programme to continue, and today’s Government announcement is very welcome.

“It should also be noted that the Government recently announced a further £63 million will be provided through local authorities to help families with the costs of food and other necessities”.

During the coronavirus lockdown the Government has been providing vouchers to families whose children qualify for free meals.

But it had insisted this would not continue outside of term time and this prompted Mr Rashford to pen an open letter to MPs on Monday (June 15).

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By Tuesday morning the government, while acknowledging the plea, looked as if it would stick with its decision to discontinue the vouchers in the summer holidays.

Then, in a mid-morning u-turn, Downing Street announced a one-off £120 million fund which will benefit some 1.3 million children in England over the six-week summer period following the footballer’s campaign.

A delighted Mr Rashford announced that he was: “…proud the voices of vulnerable parents all over the country had been listened to”, and in a statement on social media added: “There is still a long way to go but I am thankful to you all that we have given these families just one less thing to worry about tonight”.

Footballers, politicians, charity and education leaders have praised the striker’s successful campaign to extend the free school meals vouchers scheme into the summer reflecting the fact families face an ‘unprecedented situation’ over the holidays.

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Payments will be made through a one-off, six-week voucher scheme, amounting to £15 a week per child, with some 1.3 million children in England eligible to use the vouchers in supermarkets; but the scheme will not continue beyond this summer.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he: “…welcomes [Mr Rashford’s] contribution to the debate around poverty and respects the fact that he has been using his profile as a leading sportsman to highlight important issues”.

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