Marcus Rashford launches petition calling on UK government to take more action on child hunger

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Marcus Rashford has launched an online petition calling on the United Kingdom government to provide free school meals for more children.

In June, the Manchester United striker successfully lobbied the government to extend its policy of providing free school meals for underprivileged children into the summer months through the school holidays.

The 22-year-old also partnered with FareShare and helped to raise £20million to help provide free meals to those in need amid the coronavirus pandemic, while he has since worked with supermarkets and food brands to create a taskforce with the aim of tackling child food poverty.

Rashford's work in helping to tackle child hunger led to the England international being awarded an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours, after which he vowed to continue his fight.

Speaking about the latest initiative, Rashford, who received free meals as a child, said: "For too long this conversation has been delayed. Child food poverty in the UK is not a result of COVID-19.

"In 2020, no child should be going to bed hungry, nor should they be sat in classrooms concerned about how their younger siblings are going to eat that day, or how they are going to access food come the holidays.

"Let's wrap arms around each other and stand together to say this is unacceptable, that we are united in protecting our children."

The petition calls for three recommendations to be implemented, including expanding free school meals to all under-16s where a parent or guardian is in receipt of Universal Credit or equivalent benefit.

It also says meals and activities should be providing during all holidays, and Healthy Start vouchers should be increased to the value of £4.25 per week.

The Welsh government announced on Thursday that it will provide free school meals during all holidays up to and including Easter 2021. It said the decision will come at a cost of £11million.