Free school meals get the go ahead during Christmas holiday

Free school meals get the go ahead during Christmas holiday

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed the government will provide an extra £170m to fund free schools to disadvantaged children during the Christmas holidays.

Footballer Marcus Rashford who launched the free school meals campaign earlier this year when schools closed in March has welcomed the government's change of heart over free school meals.

free school meals plate marcus rashford school meals

Rashford said it would improve the lives of almost 1.7 million children.

The move represents a U-turn for the government, which had said Universal Credit was the best way to help. The government is to spend more than £400m to support poor children and their families in England.

A winter grant scheme, to be run by councils, will provide support with food and bills, and a holiday food and activities programme is to be expanded. They will receive funding from the beginning of December until the end of March.

The holiday food and activities programme will be expanded with a £220m investment to cover Easter, summer and Christmas in 2021. A 16m cash boost will also be given to food banks all over the UK.

food banks

The prime minister called the footballer on Saturday evening to confirm the new plans.

It was the second time the star had forced the government to change course this year. On the previous occasion, which last month earned Rashford an MBE, No. 10 had initially rejected his plea for it to keep paying for £15-a-week food vouchers for some of England’s poorest families over the summer, only to cave in amid a public outcry.

"The steps made today will improve the lives of near 1.7 million children in the UK over the next 12 months, and that can only be celebrated."

"There is still so much more to do, and my immediate concern is the approximate 1.7 million children who miss out on free school meals, holiday provision and Healthy Start vouchers because their family income isn't quite low enough, but the intent the Government have shown today is nothing but positive and they should be recognised for that."

"I am fully committed to this cause, and I will fight for the rest of my life for it, because in my mind, no child should ever go hungry in the United Kingdom," the player said.

Seeing the role everyone had played in supporting the most vulnerable children had been "the greatest moment of my life," he added.