Marcus Rashford and charity leaders’ campaign to end child food poverty to be debated by MPs

MPs are to debate measures to tackle child food poverty today (24 May) following a campaign led by the footballer Marcus Rashford and the charity sector.

The move follows a petition, started by Rashford, that has now gained more than 1.1m signatures.

The debate will be led by petitions committee chair Catherine McKinnell, Labour MP for Newcastle North, and involve MPs from all parties. A minister is set to respond on behalf of the government.

The petition states that the “Government should support vulnerable children & #endchildfoodpoverty by implementing three recommendations from the National Food Strategy to expand access to Free School Meals, provide meals & activities during holidays to stop holiday hunger & increase the value of and expand the Healthy Start scheme”.

The debate follows evidence collected by the committee on child food poverty, including representatives of FareShare, The Trussell Trust, The Children’s Society and the Food Foundation.

FareShare welcomed the debate saying it was “another huge step” for the campaign to tackle food poverty among children.

Meanwhile, Independent Food Network coordinator Sabine Goodwin called for benefits to match the cost of living for families and for ministers to ensure long-term finding for councils to tackle food poverty.

She said: "Mitigating the effects of escalating child food poverty is essential but we need to stop hunger from happening in the first place."

The announcement of the debate comes days after Rashford topped this year’s Sunday times Giving List. The Manchester United and England striker raised £20m for the campaign to tackle food poverty and has a personal wealth of £16m, meaning he raised 125% of his net worth over the year.

Earlier this year, Rashford and charity leaders linekd up to call on the government to review eligibility thresholds for free school meals across the UK.

This followed a series of high-profile policy u-turns by the government over school meal entitlement over school holidays amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

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