The Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford has announced the launch of a new taskforce that he hopes will help reduce the number of children going hungry across the UK.
The Child Food Poverty Task Force is being supported by some of the country’s largest supermarket chains and food-making companies, including Aldi, Asda, Co-op, Kellogg’s and Sainsbury’s.
Goals of the new organisation include pressuring the UK government into expanding on its ‘free school meals’ policies so that all children from families in receipt of Universal Credit aren’t in the position of being left to go hungry.
It is feared that the coronavirus pandemic has added significantly to the number of parents who struggle to put food on the table for their children.
The Child Food Poverty Task Force has worked with the National Food Strategy to make three central requests of the UK government and it will be pushing for them to be matched and publicly funded in due course.
Firstly, they want to see free school meals being made available to all children from households on benefits aged between seven and 16.
They also want all children who receive free school meals to have their access to food and activities during school holidays expanded and for ‘Healthy Start’ vouchers to be made more widely available and increased in value from £3.10 per week to £4.25 per week.
In June, Marcus Rashford undertook what became a high-profile campaign to have the government cover the costs of free school meals during the school summer holidays.
That campaign quickly proved successful and the footballer is hoping to achieve similar results this time around as he lobbies chancellor Rishi Sunak and his ministerial colleagues to back what the new taskforce is describing as its blueprint for a “long-term solution to child poverty in the UK”.
Rashford has explained that he grew up as a child affected by food poverty and said that he wants to see any stigma associated with asking for help under those circumstances to be eradicated as much as possible.
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