The Labour Party is calling on Conservative MPs to defy the government to support Marcus Rashford’s campaign to extend the free school meals scheme to include half-term and Christmas holidays.
The Manchester United and England forward launched an online petition last week urging the government to make three commitments to support vulnerable children as part of the #endchildfoodpoverty campaign.
The campaign is supported by the Child Food Poverty Task Force, which was formed by Rashford, as well as a further 20 charities and key names in the food industry.
Rashford, who has been awarded an MBE for his work in tackling child poverty, forced a Government U-turn in July when he won his battle to ensure the provision of free meals during the school summer holidays.
Rashford’s school meal recommendations
- Expansion of free school meals to every child from a household on Universal Credit or equivalent, reaching an additional 1.5m children aged between seven and 16
However, the latest proposals were rejected by No 10, with the government saying they have no plans to offer further direct support.
After Rashford’s petition amassed 300,000 votes to force a parliament debate, Labour declared they would trigger a parliamentary vote on Wednesday unless ministers changed tack and supported him.
Tulip Siddiq MP, Labour’s Shadow Children and Early Years Minister, has now written to every backbench Conservative MP, asking them to support Labour’s proposal, which would provide additional support to over 1.4 million children in every school holiday until Easter.
“Families across the country are worrying about how to make ends meet, but the Prime Minister is ruling out giving over a million children food support over the holidays,” Siddiq said in a letter.
“Every Conservative MP now has an opportunity to make it clear that they will support the families in their constituency who are worrying about how they will put food on the table in the weeks ahead.”