Boris Johnson rejects Marcus Rashford call for free school meals to be extended

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has turned down Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford's calls for free school meals to be extended over half term and Christmas holidays.

Rashford, who has recently been awarded an MBE for services to vulnerable children, launched a petition calling on the government to lengthen the scheme in order to attempt to end child poverty.

But in response, a No 10 spokesman said: "We took that decision to extend free school meals during the pandemic when schools were partially closed during lockdown. We're in a different position now with schools back open to all pupils.

"It's not for schools to regularly provide food to pupils during the school holidays. We believe the best way to support families outside of term time is through Universal Credit rather than Government subsidising meals."

Rashford wasted no time in hitting back on Twitter, with a post that read: "Merry Christmas kids…

"It’s also not for food banks to feed millions of British children but here we are. 250% increase in food poverty and rising…

"This is not going away anytime soon and neither am I…"

It comes after a passionate plea from the England international last week, in which he said: "Whatever your feeling, opinion or judgment, food poverty is never the child’s fault. Let’s protect our young.

“Let’s wrap arms around each other and stand together to say that this is unacceptable, that we are united in protecting our children.

“Today, millions of children are finding themselves in the most vulnerable of environments and are beginning to question what it really means to be British.

“I’m calling on you all today to help me prove to them that being British is something to be proud of.

“Right now, a generation who have already been penalised during this pandemic with lack of access to educational resources are now back in school struggling to concentrate due to worry and the sound of their rumbling stomachs.”

The appeal came after Rashford forced the government to make a U-turn on holiday food vouchers in June when the coronavirus pandemic was at its peak.

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