England and Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford has forced the United Kingdom government led by Boris Johnson into a humiliating U turn over free school meals for the poorest families over the summer, announcing a new £120m voucher scheme.
Hours before the matter caused possible embarrassment in the House of Commons, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman announced a new £120m “Covid summer food fund”.
“Owing to the corona pandemic, the PM fully understands that children and parents face an entirely unprecedented situation over the summer,” he said.
Asked if Rashford’s pleas had helped to change the prime minister’s mind, his spokesman said: “The prime minister welcomes Marcus Rashford’s contribution to the debate around poverty, and respects the fact that he has been using his profile as a sportsman to highlight important issues.”
He said families entitled to free school meals would receive a one-off voucher at the end of the school term, worth £15 a week for the six-week school break, which they can spend in supermarkets.
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
Rashford, who has helped to raise around 20 million pounds ($25 million) with charity FareShare UK to supply meals, stepped up his campaign to pressure the UK government into feeding hungry children during the school holidays. On Tuesday morning, the he began tweeting about the UK’s poorest families, who cannot afford to pay their water and electricity bills or put food on the table.
The Manchester United forward responded soon with a tweet, "I don’t even know what to say. Just look at what we can do when we come together, THIS is England in 2020."
The U-turn came after the PM had rejected the idea on Monday.