Free school meals

Marcus Rashford

Simon Stone

BBC Sport

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Marcus Rashford's efforts to ensure children don't go hungry during the coronavirus pandemic are "more important than any game of football he could play".

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Schoolchildren pen thank you letters to Marcus Rashford

Sarah Jenkins

BBC News

Pupils at a school in Luton have written letters to Marcus Rashford, thanking him for his "amazing hard work" campaigning for children to receive free school meals during summer holidays.

Year six students at St Margaret of Scotland Catholic Primary watched a BBC Newsround report on the footballer's campaign and wanted to thank him personally, teacher Miss Atkinson said.

One letter said: "Thank you for fighting for children who are vulnerable in this sort of time.

"You are a hero to many children my age suffering because of the devastating feeling of hunger."

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Another pupil said they were "so happy" with the star's support as "some people in our school are struggling with food".

One Chelsea supporter said the Manchester United forward had "inspired" them.

"Even though I don't support Man United the free kick you scored against Chelsea was outstanding," the pupil said.

32,000 Essex children to qualify for free meals

Piers Meyler, Local Democracy Reporter

More than 32,000 children in Essex will benefit from free school meals over the summer holidays, after a government U-turn was sparked by a campaign from Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford.

The biggest impact will be felt in the Thurrock parliamentary constituency, where 3,094 children qualify for free school meals.

As many as 2,704 children qualify for free school meals in Rochford and Southend East, while in South Basildon and East Thurrock, 2,643 will qualify.

Marcus Rashford

The U-turn means that eligible children will qualify for a six-week voucher through the summer.

It was going to end at the end of this summer term.

The government welcomed Rashford's "contribution to the debate around poverty".

It was believed his intervention contributed to Tory MPs putting pressure on the government to back the move, given the amount of opposition it was facing during Labour’s opposition day motion.

Rashford, 22, said: "Just look at what we can do when we come together."