Manchester Businesses Stand With Marcus Rashford By Offering Free School Meals To Children In Need

Laura Rogan Laura Rogan - Editor of Secret Manchester


Businesses are coming together in the wake of Marcus Rashford’s campaign.

A number of Greater Manchester businesses have stood with Marcus Rashford this week, following the news that the UK government had voted against extending the free school meals scheme in parliament. Offering up the free meals to pupils that the Tories wouldn’t, businesses from all over the country have stepped forward to help, with Rashford saying he’s been “blown away by news of local businesses stepping up to fill the voucher scheme deficit during the October half term”.

Co-op was among the first to share their support for Marcus Rashford’s ongoing campaign, which saw triumph earlier this year, with Group CEO Steve Murrells announcing on LinkedIn that Co-op Academies would be extending their free school meals scheme throughout the October half term – also sharing a passionate letter than he’d sent to the Prime Minister urging him to do the same.

The letter reads: “I am writing to you as a matter of urgency to ask that the Government step in to provide funding for the provision of free school meals for this October half term and match the action the Co-op has taken today to provide funding for the 5,000 children reliant on free school meals in the Co-op’s 25 academies.

“We simply cannot let any child go hungry as a result of this pandemic. As the Chief Executive of a leading business with its roots in the North, I can see at first hand the acute challenges faced by vulnerable children and their families. The need faced is more serious for families now than it was in the summer – jobs have been lost and whatever savings families had have long gone. As a nation we must step in and provide support to the communities who most need it.

“That is why the Co-op Group has given its support to Marcus Rashford’s campaign and have become a leading member of his Child Food Poverty Taskforce. We support the three recommendations from the National Food Strategy at the heart of Marcus’ campaign which provide a sustainable solution to child food poverty and have used our voice to endorse his petition.”

As the campaign continues to grow, more businesses are getting involved – each pledging to give free meals in the form of either grab bags or lunch dishes to prevent children going hungry over the October break.

Marcus Rashford and his family have also continued their hard work this week, too, personally providing a helping hand at the FareShare food bank’s brand new depot in Greater Manchester.

Rashford said: “The real superstars in this country can be found in the heart of most cities, towns and villages, working tirelessly to support our most vulnerable across the UK.

“As FareShare and other food-related charities approach one of the toughest Winters on record, with demand higher than ever before, it is important that I stay connected and lend my support wherever it is needed.

“When we stumble, there will always be a community to wrap their arms around us and pick us back up. For many of us, that is FareShare or the local food bank.

“Food banks who are staffed with selfless volunteers, dedicating their lives to protecting those most vulnerable, those who, in many cases, have fallen into unforeseen circumstances due to illness, personal loss and unemployment.

“It should be noted that a lot of these volunteers have themselves suffered unemployment as a result of the pandemic, yet they still strive to help others less fortunate. That to me is the greatest example of what we can do, and the difference we can make, when we just work together.”

FareShare is a UK charity which aims to fight hunger and food waste across the country. Their food network re-distributes in-date food to charities across the UK, as well as school breakfast clubs, homeless shelters and community cafes, helping to prevent those less fortunate from going hungry. To find out more or offer support, head to their website here.
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