Marcus Rashford`s campaign to extend free school meals to disadvantaged children over the school holidays has gained support from many councils.
Recently, the UK government infuriated many when it voted against extending free meals outside the school term, disregarding calls for support amid the coronavirus pandemic. Following the government`s refusal, many councils have stepped in, backing Rashford`s campaign to feed underprivileged children next week.
Conservative-controlled Kensington and Chelsea council and Birmingham city council, the UK’s biggest local authority, were among those who pledged their support.
A No 10 spokesman said: “As we’ve set out before, we’re in a different position now, with schools back open to all and the vast majority of pupils back in school.
“As the prime minister said, free school meals will continue during term-time, and he wants to continue to support families throughout the crisis, so they have cash available to feed kids as they need to,” he said.
Robert Halfon, the Tory MP chair of the Commons education committee, was one of the five MPs to vote in support of Labour`s motion. He impelled ministers to meet with Rashford and the child poverty task force to discuss the issue of food poverty.
“What the government should do is sit down with Marcus Rashford and the taskforce … there’s people like Henry Dimbleby [co-founder of the Leon restaurant chain] and some of the big food companies – and before Christmas work on a long-term plan to combat child food hunger,” Halfon said.
He added: “If the government wants to look at it in terms of taxpayer cost-benefit and attainment, breakfast clubs are a no-brainer. If a child gets a regular breakfast it increases their attainment by as much as two more GCSEs and attendance goes up.”
On his Twitter feed, Rashford highlighted a number of offers to help amid the economic crisis and gained more than 600,000 signatures on Friday.
If you can do one thing for me tonight, sign the petition 👇🏾https://t.co/FvvpO71zOv
It’s time we put party politics aside and worked together to find a long-term sustainable solution to child food poverty in the UK.
Implement the 3 asks.
I appreciate you all ♥️
— Marcus Rashford MBE (@MarcusRashford) October 20, 2020
Councillor Josh Rendall, the lead member for family and children’s services, said: “This is not a long-term solution but this is an exceptional year and we know it has been a tough one for many families.”