16 Oct Children’s commissioner ‘firmly behind’ Marcus Rashford in battle with government over free school meals
Anne Longfield urged the government to make “the right choice” by U-turning on the policy – as they did over the summer – and provide poorer pupils with meals over the half-term break.
She told Times Radio: “I think the government made the right choice some months ago when they extended free school meals over the summer. They need to make that right choice again now in my view. I’m firmly behind Marcus Rashford on this.”
The children’s commissioner was referring to the Manchester United and England player’s campaign to make the government give out food vouchers for October’s half-term break and at Christmas.
Ms Longfield added: “There needs to be a plan – it’s a real issue, food insecurity, which affects millions of families. It’s not going to go away any time soon so I think now is the time to be bold and generous for these families. It makes such a difference.
“When we’re trying to build children’s confidence, when we’re trying to give them the best start to rebuild what they’ve lost this is really important.”
Though Mr Rashford was successful in forcing a government U-turn in July, the government has insisted it will not happen again, with a spokesperson for the prime minister saying: “We are in a different position now.”
The children’s commissioner had previously congratulated Mr Rashford for his campaign over the summer, tweeting in June: “Well done Marcus Rashford – a powerful plea from the heart for Govt to fund school meals for poor children over the summer ‘it’s not about politics’ but about ‘humanity’.”
Around 900,000 more children have signed up to receive free school meals for the first time this autumn, bringing the total number of children registered up to 2.2 million, according to a new survey by the Food Foundation think tank, released as part of its joint campaign with Marcus Rashford.