The Government is extending its free school meal voucher scheme through a £120 million Covid Summer Food Fund, Downing Street said, following a campaign by footballer Marcus Rashford. What a hero.
Rashford, who has raised £20million to boost food distribution with the charity FareShare, has spoken about using food banks and receiving free meals as a child.
He wants to help the families that need it the most, knowing how it felt to go hungry, and believes the Government revising its decision could be a small step towards fighting child poverty.
Victory came on Tuesday lunchtime as the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Owing to the coronavirus pandemic the Prime Minister fully understands that children and parents face an entirely unprecedented situation over the summer.
“To reflect this we will be providing a Covid Summer Food Fund.
“This will provide food vouchers covering the six-week holiday period.
“This is a specific measure to reflect the unique circumstances of the pandemic.
“The scheme will not continue beyond the summer and those eligible will be those who already qualify for free school meals.”
I don’t even know what to say.
Just look at what we can do when we come together, THIS is England in 2020.
— Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) June 16, 2020
The PM’s spokesman said: “It’s our intention to get all pupils back into school in September.”
It is understood payment will be through a one-off six week voucher given to eligible families at the end of term to use in supermarkets.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said the measure would impact some 1.3 million children in England.
Referring to Mr Rashford, he said: “The PM welcomes his 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.”
The cost will come to £120 million in additional funding, Downing Street said.
Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner tweeted: “Absolutely excellent news, not a time to gloat but a time to thank @MarcusRashford and other campaigners who have made this possible.
“I am extremely pleased #HolidaysWithoutHunger”
This is another welcome u-turn from Boris Johnson.
The thought of 1.3 million children going hungry this summer was unimaginable.
— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) June 16, 2020
Downing Street said the vouchers would amount to £15 a week per child.
The PM’s spokesman said: “This is a specific measure over the summer.”