Free school meals: Marcus Rashford given City of Manchester Award

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Marcus RashfordImage source, Fareshare/Mark Waugh/PA Wire
Image caption,
Marcus Rashford recently helped out at FareShare Greater Manchester

Footballer Marcus Rashford is to be given the City of Manchester Award to thank him for his campaign to get free meals for children during the school holidays.

The award recognises "outstanding and exceptional contribution to the city".

Manchester United striker Rashford's petition to end child food poverty has more than 990,000 signatures.

Lord Mayor of Manchester Tommy Judge said it was "remarkable" to see him "give a voice to the powerless".

The 22-year-old has already been awarded an MBE for his work to tackle child poverty.

The UK government extended free school meals to eligible children during the Easter holidays earlier this year and, after a high-profile campaign by Rashford, did the same for the summer holiday.

Image caption,
Marcus Rashford was made an MBE earlier this year

But it has refused to do so again, saying it had already given money to councils in England to support families.

It led to businesses across the country, including fish and chip shops, pubs, restaurants and cafes, offering free food to eligible children over half-term.

Wythenshawe councillor Judge, who will officially award Rashford the accolade at a full meeting of Manchester City Council later, said it was a "truly memorable" moment, "from one Wythenshawe lad to another".

He said: "We could never have known that Marcus was going to become the world-famous footballer that he is celebrated for today, but perhaps his recent campaign to feed needy young people will become his true legacy.

"The way he and his wonderful family has stood up for what they believe in, the way they have given a voice to the powerless has been remarkable to see."

Rashford will be invited to formally receive the award at a future council meeting when social distancing rules allow it.