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I won’t give up, says Marcus Rashford as school meal plea is rejected

FOOTBALLER Marcus Rashford has said he refuses to drop his bid to extend free school meal vouchers through the summer holidays, despite the government insisting the scheme will not run outside term time.

The Manchester United and England star urged the government to make a U-turn so pupils who received free meals during the lockdown could still have them this summer.

Rashford , 22, has raised £20million to boost food distribution with the charity FareShare. He has talked about using food banks and receiving free meals as a child, and said he wants to help families that need it the most, knowing how it felt to go hungry.

The footballer later said he had been ‘blown away with the support’, adding: ‘It’s not over yet. Let’s keep retweeting and tagging local MPs. We need to be the voice for those 200,000 children who have no choice but to skip meals today. I refuse to give up.’

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said it ‘fully supports’ Rashford’s demand. Paul Whiteman, head of school leaders’ union NAHT, added: ‘Holiday hunger has always been a great concern for school leaders and this summer is likely to be especially challenging for many low-income families.’

But the Department for Education said: ‘Free school meals are ordinarily term time only, and the national voucher scheme will not run during the summer holidays.’

It said its Holiday Activities and Food programme offers activities and free meals throughout the summer to thousands of children.

The prime minister’s spokesman said Boris Johnson would respond to the footballer’s letter ‘as soon as he can’ and said councils had been given £63million to help struggling families.