Sunak dismisses Rashford’s calls to continue free school holiday meals – ‘Already acted’

Gavin Williamson confuses Marcus Rashford with Maro Itoje

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England and Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford has joined with Sainsbury’s, Asda and Co-op urging the Government to extend free school meals over holidays for the next three years.

Last year, the Government made a U-turn on providing free school meals for children during the holiday.

The footballer has now written a joint letter with supermarket bosses and food industry leaders, to urge the Government to extend the programme for the next three years.

In 2020 the Government pledged an extra £170 million to fund the extension of free school meals.

However, in an interview with Andrew Marr on Sunday chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “So we put in place some measures to help families during coronavirus, that was the right thing to do, and in common with the other things that have now come to an end, whether it was furlough or other things, that’s right that we’ve transitioned to a more normal way of doing things.”

“But we have replaced… but we have actually already acted, is what I’d say to Marcus and everyone else.”

The chancellor added: “We’ve put in place something called the holiday activities programme, which provides not just meals but also activities for children during holiday periods for those families that need extra help.

“That is a new programme, it was announced earlier this year, it’s being rolled out across the country, and I think that can make an enormous difference to people.”

However, child food poverty remains a cause close to Rashford’s heart because he received free school meals growing up in south Manchester.

Marcus Rashford, was awarded an MBE in 2020 for his campaign.

The footballer spoke to the BBC about the campaign in 2020.

He said: “I am fully committed to this cause, and I will fight for the rest of my life for it.

“In my mind, no child should ever go hungry in the United Kingdom.

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Mr Rashford added that working on the campaign to extend free school meals was “the greatest moment of my life”.

In October Rashford became the youngest recipient of an honorary degree from the University of Manchester for fighting child poverty.

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