Footballer Marcus Rashford is calling on people to write to their MP about backing recommendations to end the “child hunger pandemic”.
The England and Manchester United player said that “devastatingly” child food poverty is getting worse instead of better. The three recommendations Rashford is supporting are part of Henry Dimbleby’s National Food Strategy. They aim to guarantee that every child at risk of going hungry receives enough food every day.
- The first recommendation is to expand free school meal eligibility to all children aged 7-18 in all households earning £20,000 or less after benefits, and to children that are undocumented or living in immigrant households with “no recourse to public funds”.
- The second is to provide long-term funding for the Holiday Activities and Food Programme, increasing eligibility in line with free school meal expansion.
- The third is to expand Healthy Start eligibility to all households with pregnant women or children under five earning £20,000 or less after benefits, and invest in a communications campaign to increase uptake of the scheme which provides free vouchers to buy milk, fruit, and vegetables.
Rashford is calling on the government to urgently support the recommendations and include the funds needed in the Spending Review. This follows his previous campaign, when more than 1.1 million people signed a petition on the parliamentary website.
New data from The Food Foundation shows that more UK households with children aged 17 and under are experiencing food insecurity than in the first wave of the pandemic. A survey of 6,490 UK households found that 15% have experienced food insecurity in the past six months. That’s approximately 27% higher than before the pandemic.
Whilst we’ve come a long way in the last 20 months, placing the issue of child food poverty at the forefront, devastatingly, the issue is getting worse not better.
The entire nation got behind the national team this summer so let’s put these figures in football terms: You can fill 27 Wembley stadiums with the 2.5 million children that are struggling to know where their next meal might be coming from today. What is it going to take for these children to be prioritised? Instead of removing support through social security, we should be focusing efforts on developing a sustainable long-term road map out of this child hunger pandemic.
I am, today, pledging my support for three recommendations from Part 2 of the National Food Strategy. I hope that we see the required investment pledged during the Autumn Spending Review.
I will be writing to my MP about it, and I would encourage you all to do the same. It will take many of us to stand together on this, and show we care about reaching those most in need in our communities.
Anna Taylor, executive director of The Food Foundation, said:
It’s extremely distressing that now even more children lack a secure, nutritious diet compared with last year.
Despite a sense of ‘normality’ returning, this is no time for complacency – we can’t sit back and allow this damage to our children’s health, learning and life chances, not to mention the heavy burden it bears on our NHS.
We know children from deprived backgrounds have higher obesity rates, worse levels of diabetes, more tooth decay and even impaired height development, compared with their wealthier peers.
This will only get worse if left unaddressed and entrench inequalities deeper. So, today, we are asking Government to act appropriately to protect our youngest citizens.
Rashford, 23, waged a high-profile campaign last year to persuade the government to provide free meals to vulnerable youngsters in England throughout the school holidays during the coronavirus pandemic. It forced prime minister Boris Johnson into a U-turn. He also became the youngest person to top the Sunday Times Giving List. He did so by raising £20m in donations from supermarkets for groups tackling child poverty.
The #WriteNow campaign encourages the public to visit Rashford’s campaign website End Child Food Poverty and follow the steps to write to their local MP.
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?