LONDON (Reuters) – Prime Minister Boris Johnson will provide a summer food fund for struggling families in England, bowing to pressure from England forward Marcus Rashford and his campaign to prevent children from going hungry during the coronavirus pandemic.
British ministers originally said school food vouchers would not be available over the long summer holiday, prompting the 22-year-old Manchester United forward to take up the cause and reveal how he had relied on such support as a boy.
Before a debate in parliament, and as some lawmakers from the governing Conservative Party called for a change, Johnson’s spokesman said the government would be providing a COVID summer food fund costing around 120 million pounds ($150 million).
“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,” his spokesman said.
Rashford used a column in the Times newspaper on Tuesday to argue that while he may not have the education of a lawmaker in parliament, he did have a social education.
He has already helped to raise around 20 million pounds with charity Fareshare UK to supply meals to struggling families.
“I don’t even know what to say,” he said on Twitter of the change in policy. “Just look at what we can do when we come together, THIS is England in 2020.”
The move by the government was met with widespread praise for Rashford from fellow sports stars, politicians and the mayor of London. “Well played, Marcus. Well played,” said former England captain and pundit Gary Lineker on Twitter.
“Good to see Marcus Rashford keeping up his record of scoring on debut in each new competition,” one comment said.
(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper and Kate Holton; editing by Stephen Addison)