Footballer Marcus Rashford is spearheading a taskforce with the food industry to help end child poverty in the UK.
The Manchester United and England forward has enlisted the support of major retailers Tesco, Asda, Aldi, Waitrose, Co-op, Lidl, Iceland and Sainsbury’s for the taskforce, along with other food companies including Kelloggs, Deliveroo and FareShare.
The taskforce will spend the next six weeks detailing the stories of some of the most affected by child food insecurity.
“4.2 million children were living in poverty in the UK prior to Covid-19 and this is expected to have risen; the taskforce stand together to offer these vulnerable children the platform they need to have their voices heard.”
As part of the campaign, the group is also backing three elements of Henry Dimbleby’s National Food Strategy:
- Expansion of free school meals to every child from a household on universal credit or equivalent, reaching an additional 1.5 million children aged between seven and 16.
- Expansion of holiday provision (food and activities) to support all children on free school meals, reaching an additional 1.1 million children.
- Increasing the value of the Healthy Start vouchers to £4.25 per week (from £3.10) and expanding into all those on universal credit or equivalent, reaching an additional 290,000 pregnant women and children under the age of four.
In a letter addressed to MPs, Rashford said: “As a sportsman, I have always found such power in unity and teamwork, and I’m thrilled that such influential voices have put any allegiance aside to join me on my mission to move the conversation of child food poverty forward.
“4.2 million children were living in poverty in the UK prior to Covid-19 and this is expected to have risen; the Task Force stand together to offer these vulnerable children the platform they need to have their voices heard.
“I encourage everyone to stop and listen. The time for action is now. I’m proud and I’m humbled to see such a reaction and commitment from the food industry, and I am confident that together we can help change the lives of those most vulnerable for the better.
“When we pause, listen and reflect on what the future of our next generation could potentially look like it’s easy to see that if we don’t take action quickly, the issue of child food poverty will have devastating effects on the stability of our country.
“These children are the future – our next generation of NHS workers, police officers, footballers and politicians. Allow our children to believe that, regardless of the cycle, they can be anything they put their mind to.”