Marcus Rashford reveals restaurants giving free meals to children over half term

Footballer Marcus Rashford said he is ‘blown away’ by the amount of restaurants and cafes offering free food to vulnerable children over the half-term break.

Companies across the country have stepped in to plug the gap after MPs voted down his campaign to extend the provision of free school meals over the winter holidays.

The defeat caused widespread outrage and left many wondering how they could help children who face going hungry when schools are shut.

Despite hospitality businesses facing unprecedented challenges as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, dozens have taken to social media to encourage struggling families to get in touch.

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Rashford, 22, tweeted: ‘Blown away by news of local businesses stepping up to fill the voucher scheme deficit during the October half term. Selflessness, kindness, togetherness, this is the England I know.’

The Manchester and England player has retweeted over 50 restaurants, pubs and cafes offering free food to struggling families in the last 24 hours alone.

Offers are coming in from firms in Bolton, Liverpool, Sheffield, Manchester, Wigan, Bristol, Devon, Nottingham and Anglesey, to name just a few locations.

Responding to the tweet, Mr Starmer said: ‘If the Government won’t do the right thing, the great people of this country will.

‘Incredible examples of local businesses and communities coming together to provide free meals to children over the holidays.

‘But it should never have come to this.’

After the defeat Rashford, who this month was awarded an MBE for his campaigning, vowed not to give up his fight to end food poverty.

The footballer has been open about his own reliance on food voucher schemes growing up in poverty in Greater Manchester and in summer forced the Government into a U-turn on providing food vouchers over the six week break.

He has been an ambassador for the food redistribution charity FareShare since March 2020 and has helped them raise enough funds to provide over 4.2 million meals since the pandemic began.

The organisation said it has seen demand for food soar since the outbreak of Covid-19 and is now distributing double the amount of food in comparison to before the lockdown in March, enough food for two million meals each week.

To respond to the crisis, FareShare Greater Manchester has taken on additional warehouse space which could treble the amount of food distributed in the region. They named the space Melanie Maynard House after Rashford’s mother.

The pair visited the charity on Thursday and were seen getting stuck in moving around food supplies ahead of what is expected to be a tough winter for food banks.

Donating just £1 to FareShare can help provide four meals to hungry children. You can make a donation here.

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