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Rashford urges government to meet families affected by child food poverty

Marcus Rashford has said the government should meet families affected by child poverty in order to better understand the problem.

The England and Manchester United footballer, who has been calling on the government to extend the free school meals scheme, also said he was open to the idea of meeting Boris Johnson to discuss his campaign.

Rashford told reporters on Monday that a long-term plan was needed to tackle child food poverty and help families who are “begging out for change”.

The 23-year-old, who has won a Pride of Britain award for his campaign, said: “At the beginning of all of this I knew that food poverty was a big thing, but I didn’t understand how big of a thing it was in terms of the amount of people that have been affected.

“I took time to kind of educate myself and meet some families – I just asked them what would they change in an ideal world.

“A lot of them were giving me the same response because of course you know, as a parent, you want to be able to put food on the table for your children.

“For me, it’s about the government gaining that understanding and the best way to do it is to meet the families and see how much they need help.”

He added: “For me it’s obvious change is needed… when you meet some of the families they are begging out for change.”

When asked if he would like to meet the prime minister to discuss his campaign, Rashford said: “Yeah, I’m open to doing that, I think it’s something that will help the families more, that’s what this is about, it’s not about me and the government and the people in charge.

“It’s about the families that need help, it’s just important that I don’t lose sight of that.”

Conservative MPs rejected a Labour motion in October calling for an extension of the free school meals scheme over the school holidays until Easter 2021.

So far, Mr Johnson has resisted making a similar U-turn to the one earlier this year, when he extended free school meals through the summer holidays due to the coronavirus pandemic.

More than a million people have now signed Rashford’s petition calling for the government to extend free school meals.

The number of signatories reached 1,001,500 at 5pm on 28 October – two weeks after it was set up by the footballer.

The petition asks for the government to provide meals and activities during all holidays; increase the value of Healthy Start vouchers to at least £4.25 per week, and expand free school meals to all under 16s, where a parent or guardian is in receipt of Universal Credit or an equivalent benefit.

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