Many of you will have seen Marcus Rashford’s open letter to all MPs calling for the Government to fund the provision of Free School Meals over the summer holidays.
As Marcus says, during lockdown it is estimated that 200,000 children have had to skip meals because their family has been unable to access food.
His powerful letter asks the Government to reconsider its decision to cancel the food voucher scheme over the summer holiday period and to protect the lives of the most vulnerable in our country.
Today, I have written to Marcus to thank him for his letter.
It is absolutely wrong for the Government to withdraw funding for free school meals over the summer holiday. No child should go hungry.
In light of Marcus’ letter and on behalf of my constituents in Manchester Gorton, I have also written to the Secretary of State for Education urging him to reverse the decision on free school meals.
Holiday hunger is a serious problem every year, but this summer is likely to be a great deal worse thanks to the coronavirus crisis. The current system is failing children and families living in poverty, and during this pandemic many families are now living on a knife-edge.
Since lockdown began, I have spoken with primary and secondary school headteachers from across my constituency about their concerns about the provision of free school meals and I have put numerous questions to the Government about the scheme.
I will continue to do all I can to push the Government to provide more support for vulnerable families and children struggling to buy food or pay their bills both during this pandemic and after the country has recovered.
Marcus Rashford’s story is an inspiration to all children growing up in difficult circumstances. Unfortunately, Manchester Gorton has one of the highest rates of child poverty in the country, but I know many of these struggling young people look up to him and all he has achieved and continue to achieve.
Labour has launched a new campaign, ‘Holidays Without Hunger’. The campaign calls on the Government to guarantee the provision of free school meals over the holidays to ensure no child is left hungry over the holidays. You can support this campaign, here.
There are 5,256 children in Manchester Gorton who will lose their entitlement to free school meals this summer unless the Government reverses its decision to withdraw funding for the programme. On behalf of these children, and all of my constituents, I want to thank Marcus for all the work he does.