Parliament set for free school meals showdown following Rashford petition

Parliament will today be discussing the petition to expand free school meals to all under-16s and to provide meals during the holidays.

The petition, created by Manchester United and England forward Marcus Rashford has received vast amounts of support and has over 300,000 signatures.

The demands of the petition are that the three National Food Strategy recommendations are met.

They are that access to Free School Meals is expanded, meals and activities are provided during the holidays and that the Healthy Start scheme is expanded.

Rashford went into more detail on this in his petition saying that he wants school meals expanded to all under-16s where a parent or guardian is in receipt of Universal Credit.

He also stated that meals and activities should be provided during the holidays and that the value of healthy start vouchers should increase to £4.25 a week as well as the scheme expanding.

This comes as many families in the UK have struggled in recent months with Covid-19 only adding to the issues.

14% of parents and 10% of children have experienced food insecurity in the last six months, whilst 32% of families have lost income due to Covid-19.

There is also expected to be a 13.2% rise in unemployment, leaving even more families struggling and many more children left vulnerable.

This has seen a dramatic rise in the demand for food banks, with families struggling to put food on the table during the pandemic.

The demand for food banks is predicted to be up 61% on last winter, with 1.9 million food bank parcels given to people in the past year according to the Trussell Trust.

The petition is being discussed in Parliament this evening, as Labour is using its opposition day to push forward a debate, however the Government looks set to stand firm on its position.

You can watch the debate here.

Featured image credit: Cheshire East Council Flickr

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