Footballer Marcus Rashford urges people to write to their MPs to support recommendations to end the “child starvation pandemic”.
The England-Manchester United player said child food poverty is “devastatingly” getting worse rather than better.
The three recommendations that Rashford endorses as part of Henry Dimbleby’s National Food Strategy are aimed at ensuring that every child who is hungry is getting good food every day.
The first is to extend the right to free school meals to all children ages 7-18 in all households earning £ 20,000 or less after the service and to children who are undocumented or who live in immigrant households who “ living without recourse to public funds ”(NRPF).
The second is long-term funding of the Vacation Activities and Nutrition Program to increase eligibility in line with the free school meal expansion.
And the third is to extend the Healthy Start eligibility to all households with pregnant women or children under five who earn £ 20,000 or less after the performance and invest in a communication campaign to increase adoption of the program that provides free vouchers for the purchase of milk, fruit and vegetables.
Rashford urges the government to strongly support the recommendations and include the necessary resources in the spending review.
This follows his previous campaign when more than 1.1 million people signed a petition on the parliamentary website.
A survey of 6,490 UK households found that 15% had been affected by food insecurity in the past six months – a level about 27% higher than before the pandemic.
Rashford said: “Although we have come a long way in the last 20 months bringing the issue of child food poverty to the fore, the problem is devastatingly getting worse, not better.
“The whole nation got behind the national team this summer, so let’s put these numbers in footballing terms: you can fill 27 Wembley stadiums with the 2.5 million kids today who don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
“What does it take for these children to be prioritized? Rather than scrapping social security support, let us focus our efforts on developing a sustainable long-term roadmap for this child starvation pandemic.
“Today I promise my support for three recommendations from Part 2 of the National Nutrition Strategy.
“I hope that the necessary investments will be committed during the autumn spending review.
“I will write to my MP about this and I encourage all of you to do the same.
“It will take many of us to stand together and show that we care about reaching those most in need in our communities.”
Anna Taylor, Executive Director of the Food Foundation, said: “It is extremely worrying that even more children are now lacking safe, nutritious diets compared to last year.
“We know that children from disadvantaged backgrounds have higher obesity rates, worse diabetes, more tooth decay and even reduced height compared to their more affluent peers.
“This will only get worse if it isn’t addressed and inequalities anchored more deeply. That is why today we are calling on the government to act appropriately to protect our youngest citizens. “
The #WriteNow campaign encourages the public to visit Rashford’s campaign website endchildfoodpoverty.org/write-now and follow the steps to write to their local MP.
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