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Thursday, 22 April 2021

Rashford wins school meal assurance from UK PM Johnson

Reuters , Wednesday 13 Jan 2021
Marcus Rashford
Manchester United star Marcus Rashford (Reuters)
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British soccer player Marcus Rashford said he had received assurances from Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday that problems with the meagre food parcels being offered to young English schoolchildren would be resolved.

The government was criticised on Tuesday after shared images of food parcels provided by private firms under the government's free school meals programme provoked a widespread outcry and forced one supplier to apologise.

Twenty three year-old Manchester United forward Rashford has become a powerful voice in the political discussion over the provision of food to pupils, using his Premier League status and personal experience of hunger as a child to raise awareness.

"Just had a good conversation with the Prime Minister," Rashford tweeted. "He has assured me that he is committed to correcting the issue with the food hampers and that a full review of the supply chain is taking place."

Last year Rashford led a publicity campaign to pressure the government into extending the provision of meals to include school holiday times, which it later did.

The latest issue around food parcels, provided during lockdown to children aged 4 to 7 and to those whose parents receive certain low income state benefits, came to light after users began posting images of what they had received.

One Twitter user posted a parcel she said was expected to last 10 days of lunches containing: a loaf of bread, two potatoes, two carrots, three apples, a tomato, some dried pasta, bananas, cheese, beans and other small snacks.

Ministers have said the provision shown in that image and others posted online was unacceptable.

The firm who provided that parcel, Chartwells, apologised and said it would be refunding schools. Chartwells is part of the FTSE-listed Compass Group PLC.

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