All the times Marcus Rashford did the government’s job for them

Marcus Rashford
Support us and go ad-free

Earlier this week, Marcus Rashford topped the Sunday Times giving list due to his donations to food poverty and community charities.

In conjunction with FareShare, he has donated £20m – more than his own wealth of £16m. He is the youngest person ever to top the list.

This adds to a year of work advocating and pressuring the government to provide free school meals for disadvantaged children.

Here’s a look back at all the times Rashford pushed to help kids when the government didn’t.


Free school meals

Rashford first campaigned for free school meals to be extended over summer 2020 to help struggling families.

His campaign eventually forced the government to make a U-turn and announce a £120m fund to provide meals for 1.3 million children.

Ending child food poverty

Rashford did not leave it there – he formed the Child Food Poverty Task Force in September 2020. In conjunction with several charities, he lobbied the government for long-term action on food poverty.

He then started a petition calling for the government to end child food poverty. The petition asked for free school meals to be provided during all holidays to all households on Universal Credit. It also asked for voucher values to be increased.

These were all recommendations from the National Food Strategy (NFS), an independent review of food policy commissioned by the government.

More than one million people signed.

Labour called for free school meals to be extended in parliament, but Conservative MPs voted the motion down 322 to 261.

Rallying the community

Instead, venues across the country stepped in to support Rashford’s campaign. Saying they ‘didn’t stand with the 322’, cafes, pubs, and restaurants pledged to provide food for children in need.

Again, the campaign led to a government U-turn. Boris Johnson ended up personally phoning Rashford to tell him the government would provide a £396m package for free school meals during the Christmas, Easter, and summer holidays.

The campaign is still calling for the government to provide free school meals to all families where parents are receiving benefits.

Food parcels

In January, several families posted photographs of their food hampers, many of which were small and insufficient.

Rashford immediately called out the parcels as “not good enough“, saying kids and parents would still go hungry.

The Department for Education later promised to investigate the contents of the parcels.

Access to reading

Rashford has now launched a book club to get disadvantaged children into reading. It kicked off in April with the donation of 50,000 books to primary schools.

The club is targeted at the estimated 383,000 UK children who have never owned a book.

From 2010-2019, cuts to local authority funding caused more than 800 public libraries in the UK to close.

Getting results

As MPs began debating Rashford’s petition yesterday, he tweeted:

Rashford’s campaigning makes it clear it’s possible for the government to take action on food poverty – but it shouldn’t take so much work to get them there.

Featured image via YouTube/BBC News

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us