700,000 sign petition against MPs’ subsidised food as Leeds United pledges £25,000 for Rashford's school meals campaign

OVER 700,000 people have signed a petition against MP's subsidised food as Leeds United steps in to donate £25,000 to back Marcus Rashford's free school meals campaign.

The petition demands that the public money used to pay for politician's grub in Parliament goes to feeding the poorest kids in the UK during the school holidays.

Liam Cooper, the captain of Leeds United, showed his support to Rashford's campaign that was launched earlier this year, by guaranteeing the stark figure.

On Twitter, Cooper wrote: "Let's do this Leeds! No children should ever go hungry.

"£25k guaranteed from the Leeds United FC squad. We stand with you Marcus Rashfood."

The football captain also told Sky Sports News: "Me and the players are really fortunate and we are in a position to help and therefore we are delighted to support the campaign from Leeds City Council inspired by Marcus."

The petition, which scooped over 700,000 signatures in one day, states that if hungry kids can't benefit from free meals in a pandemic, neither should MPs.

Portia Lawrie, who started the petition said: "I only started this petition yesterday because I was so angry that some MPs had rejected the chance in parliament and Marcus Rashford's campaign, to extend free school meals into the school holiday.

"I couldn't quite believe what I was watching unfold as hundreds of thousands of people threw their support behind it in less than 24 hours.

Let's do this Leeds! No children should ever go hungry.

"Many MPs are pushing for free school meals to be extended into the school holidays, and I applaud them.

"But it's time for the government to listen to them, and us, and make sure children across the UK do not go hungry and longer. Enough is enough."

Today, Rashford said he "could not be more proud to call myself British" after hundreds of cafes, shops, pubs and generous members of the public vowed to feed children who would go hungry without free school lunches.

The England star praised local communities for stepping up after his petition to give free school meals during the holidays was voted down in Parliament.

His kid-meal crusade was given a Dunkirk-style boost as hundreds of little shops across Britain sailed to the rescue.

They offered free food over the half-term holidays to help struggling families.

Last night the 22-year-old told Newsnight: "I am truly overwhelmed by the outpouring of support.

"You want to talk about 'celebrities' and 'superstars', look no further than my Twitter feed and that's exactly what you'll find."

"Growing up we didn't have a lot, but we always had the safety net of the community.

"I couldn't quite believe what I was watching unfold as hundreds of thousands of people threw their support behind it in less than 24 hours.

"That community was my family. When we stumbled, we were caught with open arms.

"Even at their lowest point, having felt the devastating effects of the pandemic, local businesses have wrapped arms around their communities today, catching vulnerable children as they fell."

For desperate parents struggling to feed their little ones, a map has been drawn up showing all the places offering free school meals during half term.

Three Lions hero Rashford — who forced a Government U-turn over vouchers in the summer holidays and was recently awarded an MBE — started tweeting the details of generous firms and councils on Thursday night.

On Friday he listed dozens more and said: “Blown away by news of businesses stepping up to fill the voucher scheme deficit during the October half-term."

He also included a list of all the businesses supporting the initiative and a link to donate to Fare Share UK.

Councils have also joined the call to arms, with Birmingham City Council saying said it will provide 61,000 children with vouchers and London’s Southwark Council spending up to £10,000.

Lesley Berry, 52, who runs Berry’s Tearoom in Brampton, Cumbria, backed Rashford and said: “I’ve been there, I was a single mum of three working two jobs to make ends meet. I used to dread the holidays, wondering how I’d be able to pay for everything. No one should feel like that.

“I’m in a position now where I can help people who were like me.

“Making a few sandwiches is no hardship but it’ll mean a lot for some families.”

And Will Shaw, 32, and wife Rachel, 26, run the Astoria bar and restaurant in Urmston, Manchester, and said: “We backed Marcus as soon as MPs rejected his idea."

Children are entitled to free meals from Year Three onward if their parents are on benefit packages including Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Child Tax Credit and Universal Credit, subject to earnings.

Rashford has raised £20million for FareShare and on Thursday he and mum Melanie helped out at one of its Manchester foodbanks.

He has previously told how the single mum relied on free meals and did 14-hour shifts to feed him and his four siblings growing up.


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