Will there be a Brexit food shortage?
Football star prevails against Johnson
Rashford has played for Manchester United since he was nine, where he made it from a young talent to an established force. He made his debut in the English national football team in 2016. At the 2018 World Cup in Russia, he was part of the young "Three Lions" team that caused a sensation and finished fourth.
The 22-year-old grew up as one of five children in Wythenshaw, a district of the northern English city of Manchester. His mother was a single parent. “My mother worked full-time for a minimum wage to make sure we had a good dinner on the table,” Rashford wrote in an open letter to the House of Commons, “but it was not enough. The system was not designed for families like mine, no matter how hard my mother worked. "
The British government, after some hesitation, ordered schools to be closed due to coronavirus in March. A food stamp system was introduced for socially disadvantaged families, in which, according to the BBC, a total of 1.3 million children are entitled. According to the will of the government of Prime Minister Johnson, it should expire with the beginning of the summer holidays in England, Scotland and Wales wanted to continue the measure.
Johnson: Government will set up funds
Rashford advocated maintaining the current child advancement program. Food shortages are "a pandemic in England that could drag on for generations if we do not correct the course now," wrote the footballer. On the short message service Twitter, he called on the government to “turn around” under the hashtag “#maketheUturn”.
On Monday, Johnson had rejected the footballer's request. One day later came the "U-turn": Shortly before the start of a debate in the British House of Commons, a spokesman for Johnson announced the establishment of a fund equivalent to almost 135 million euros, which will also be used to finance meal vouchers for children in need during the summer holidays.
I don't even know what to say.- Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) June 16, 2020
Just look at what we can do when we come together, THIS is England in 2020.
Rashford himself was speechless in an initial reaction. “I don't know what to say. See what we can achieve if we stick together, ”wrote the striker on Twitter. Rashford himself has raised more than £ 20 million for the FareShare charity. The money is used to pay for meals for children in need.
200,000 children have to forego meals
Child poverty was a pressing problem in the UK even before the coronavirus crisis. According to the NGO Child Poverty Action Group, 4.2 million children in the country were affected by poverty between 2018 and 2019, and another million children could be added by 2022, the organization warned. People from the black community and ethnic minorities are particularly at risk of poverty.
The coronavirus pandemic, which hit Britain hard, could worsen the situation. 200,000 children had to forego meals during the "lock-down", wrote Rashford in his open letter, citing figures from the NGO Food Foundation.
For children from poor households, school lunches are often the only warm meal of the day. That was also true in Rashford's case: "As a family, we were dependent on breakfast clubs, free meals at school and the kindness of neighbors and coaches," said the soccer star in his open letter. "We were also familiar with tables and soup kitchens." Without this support, the "Marcus Rashford of today would not exist".
Rashford received support for his campaign from celebrities such as English football legend Gary Lineker. "Come on," Lineker wrote to Premier Johnson in football jargon, "provide this wonderful young man with the assist for the most important goal of his life."
The opposition Labor Party also took up Rashford's demand. "I may be a fan of London and Liverpool, but I support Manchester United's Marcus Rashford," wrote the Mayor of the British capital, Sadiq Khan. Party leader Keir Starmer thanked Rashford for his "important and moving letter". Labor put the issue on the UK House of Commons agenda.
Resistance grew - also in Johnson's party
Resistance also arose within Johnson's Conservative Party. Extending the food stamp program "would be the right thing," said Tory MP Robert Halfon, especially as recent figures show that "2.5 million children are currently not learning" and food insecurity has "almost doubled".
Conservative MP George Freeman took the same line. Free school meals are vital for low-income families. The former chairwoman of the Scottish Tories, Ruth Davidson, expressed surprise that the government would not want to continue the funding program. Food safety during the holidays is incredibly important, Davidson wrote on Twitter: "Feed the children."
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