School scheme extended after Marcus Rashford's campaign

Marcus Rashford, Manchester United

Downing Street has confirmed a "COVID summer school fund" is being set up by the government to help feed children during the holidays, after a campaign by Manchester United's Marcus Rashford.

Children eligible for free school meals in term time in England will get a six-week voucher and Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomed Rashford's "contribution to the debate around poverty".

In an emotional open letter to MPs posted on Monday, England forward Marcus Rashford called on MPs to reconsider and reverse a decision that will mean free school meal vouchers will not be provided to families during the summer holidays. 

Rashford launched a partnership with Fareshare UK - a charitable network aimed at distributing food across the nation to those most in need, fighting food waste and hunger – to ensure children who are reliant on free school meals would not go without due to school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic. He has since helped raise enough funds to supply 3 million meals to vulnerable people across the whole of the UK. 

In his open letter, PFA member Rashford draws on his own family’s experience of relying on free school meals, food banks and summer schools as he was growing up, saying “the system isn’t built for families like mine to succeed, regardless of how hard my mum worked.”

“As a black man from a low-income family in Wythenshawe, Manchester, I could have been just another statistic. Instead, due to the selfless actions of my mum, my family, my neighbours and my coaches, the only stats I’m associated with are goals, appearances and caps.”

“I would be doing myself, my family and my community and injustice if I didn’t stand here today with my voice and my platform and ask you for help.”

“The Government has taken a ‘whatever it takes’ approach to the economy. I’m asking you today to extend that same thinking to protecting all vulnerable children across England.  I encourage you to hear their pleas and find your humanity”

Marcus Rashford Open Letter Tweet

To read the open letter in full, click here.

Rashford is one of many players who have been working hard in their communities, passionate about causes close to their heart. The PFA is very proud of our members who have shown their community spirit during the current COVID-19 crisis.