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  • Writer's pictureLydia Hodgetts

Football United: The footballer who brought the country together

There have been no red cards for Rashford recently as he has managed to score the heart of the nation with his campaign to #ENDCHILDFOODPOVERTY. The Wythenshawe born Manchester United player started the campaign to extend free school meal vouchers, and the country’s restaurants, cafes and councils have stepped in when the Government has stepped down.

In the UK, 1.2 million children aged 4-15 claim free school meals. For some of them, this is their only meal of the day. No child should have to go hungry, especially in a country which has the fifth-largest national economy globally. But unfortunately for some kids, the school holidays mean periods of starvation and hunger, something 23-year-old footballer Marcus Rashford wants to put an end to.

A petition calling for the Government to extend free school meals for the most vulnerable children in society set up by Rashford received over 1 million signatures in just under two weeks, according to the Financial times. However, when the petition was brought in front of the house of commons the notion was defeated, with the Conservative party voting against the movement; 322 votes to 261.

This is the Leeds Finsights Positive news article, so now we have the dismal facts out the way, it’s time to focus on the brighter side of this news.

To kick off with, the footballer has received deserving amounts of praise and recognition all around the country throughout October. One school in Bury, St Lukes of CofE Primary School, has announced that it will be renaming its dining hall to The Marcus Rashford Dining Hall after his efforts to help fight poverty and feed somewhat of 200,000 struggling families.

As well as the response from the public towards Rashford, there has been an astounding response from local businesses throughout the country who have decided to step in, which hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Cafes, pubs, restaurants and even local councils have all stepped in where the Government has arguably failed. Many of which are offering meals paid for by the business to children, with some establishments even disregarding a child’s eligibility for free school meals, in an attempt to help end child food poverty.

Without sounding too cynical, we can look at this movement of unity from a business perspective and the impact it is having on their brand. What does this mean going forward for those businesses who have, and haven’t, taken part in the scheme? Besides from being an applaudable act of goodwill, businesses getting involved are undoubtedly obtaining great exposure within their local communities, so by giving back to society this could be seen as a short-term investment for long term brand exposure.

Arguably the reverse could happen to those businesses who cannot get involved in the scheme, as the question could be asked why didn’t you help? It would be unfair to assume businesses don’t want to help out just because of additional costs incurred, but rather they can’t help out because of the extra cost. We are amid a global pandemic with a collapsing economy after all.

The Government hasn’t commented on the unity of Britain coming together and making sure its children have enough to eat, however they have tried to defend their actions, with some MPs speaking to local news outlets justifying their vote against the movement. Tamworth MP Christopher Pincher explainedI do not believe just extending free school meals to over the school holidays is the proper long-term solution to tackling food inequality and food poverty in this country.” Take from that what you will.

Overall, it’s fair to argue it’s too soon to evaluate the lasting impact this scheme is going to have on businesses, so for now we can just assume that this exposure is good for business, especially when and if business resumes as normal. But without looking at it from a business perspective, we can all agree that this momentum from the country does provide a sense of unity and pride within our local communities, and we can all feel better about ourselves knowing that in supporting a local business, we are also supporting #ENDCHILDFOODPOVERTY.

Below are ways to locate facilities which are offering free school meals for kids in need:

Ø A twitter user has created a Google Map pinpointing some of the establishments offering meals. View the Google Map here.

Ø Marcus Rashford has been actively tweeting and retweeting businesses partaking in donating free school meals, view his Twitter account here.

Ø If you are wanting to view local businesses who are donating meals within your area, many local news outlets are covering the local businesses who are donating meals.

Each day more and more businesses are announcing they too are getting involved, so make sure to keep an eye out in your local area.



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