The government of the UK is now under pressure to agree to footballer Marcus Rashford`s call to give free school meals during the holidays.
Labour backed the footballer`s campaign, warning that a million children could be left to starve because of the Covid-19 crisis. The government was given three days to agree or the party would force a vote by MPs on the issue.
Shadow education secretary Kate Green said: “Millions of families face the prospect of losing their livelihoods because the government has lost control of the virus. Its sink-or-swim plans for support could leave more than one million children at risk of going hungry over the school holidays.
“Now is the time to act. Labour will not stand by and let families be the victims of the government’s incompetence.”
Ms Green warned that if the prime minister did not change its policy, Labour would force a vote and “give his backbenchers the chance to do the right thing”.
However, No 10 clearly stated that it was against the idea of extending free school meals over the holidays. A Number 10 spokesman said: “It’s not for schools to regularly provide food to pupils during the school holidays.”
The former prime minister Gordon Brown also called on Boris Johnson to provide free school meals outside term time for 1.5 million children.
Welsh ministers said they would extend free schools meals to Easter next year to ensure that children won`t go hungry during the holidays.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leader, supported Labour`s call. He said that disadvantaged children needed more support amid the rising coronavirus infections.
“To then have a situation where they are potentially going hungry through holiday periods is very obviously detrimental to both their welfare and educational progress,” he said.