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U-turn on free school meals decision after campaign

Written by: Emma Lunn
The Government has announced that eligible children will continue to receive free school meals during the school holidays after a campaign by an England footballer.

Football player Marcus Rashford, 22, had pleaded with MPs not to stop providing free school meals during the six-week summer break.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson rejected his calls last night – but changed his mind today with the Government announcing a six-week summer school fund to ensure all children in England eligible for free school meals will get a six-week voucher for the holidays.

Boris said he welcomed Rashford’s “contribution to the debate around poverty”.

On hearing the news, Rashford Tweeted: “I don’t even know what to say. Just look at what we can do when we come together, THIS is England in 2020.”

The footballer has been widely applauded after writing an open letter to MPs yesterday detailing his experience of growing up in poverty. He followed up the letter with TV interviews, an article for The Times, and a series of Tweets using the hashtag #maketheuturn .

The support works out as about £15 a week per recipient, and will cost the taxpayer about £120m.

The Government launched a voucher scheme to fund food for children at home when lockdown was announced – but had initially refused to continue to scheme during the summer holidays.

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