Manchester United to provide 5,000 school meals during October half-term

"This initiative will go a long way to ensuring that pupils from our partner schools and families using local food-banks have fresh meals to eat, during what we know is a difficult time for many," says Man Utd Foundation chief executive

Marcus Rashford 1:01
Manchester United will provide 5,000 school meals during the October half-term holiday to support Marcus Rashford's campaign

Manchester United will provide 5,000 meals to six schools and other charities during the October half-term holiday.

The meals will be prepared at Old Trafford and distributed to the club's partner schools in the Manchester United Foundation as an initiative which the club say "does not solve the issue locally but will make a significant difference to the lives of hundreds of families across Greater Manchester".

United forward Marcus Rashford - who was recently awarded an MBE for his work in tackling child poverty - has proposed extending the free school meals provision for those on Universal Credit or equivalent into half-terms and the Christmas holidays.

Marcus Rashford
Image: Rashford was awarded an MBE for his work in campaigning for greater government funding for free school meals

A recent House of Commons measure to extend the free school meals policy until the Easter holiday was put forward by the Labour Party but defeated by a majority of 322-261 votes. Since then, hundreds of local businesses have volunteered to provide free meals for children in the October half-term holiday.

John Shiels, Chief Executive, Manchester United Foundation said: "We're incredibly proud and humbled to be working with FareShare over October half-term.

"This initiative will go a long way to ensuring that pupils from our partner schools and families using local food-banks have fresh meals to eat, during what we know is a difficult time for many.

"We've seen first-hand how children from socially challenged backgrounds can be even more vulnerable when they're not in school, it's therefore imperative to be present in their lives throughout the school holidays, showing that we care and the Foundation is always here to support."

Also See:

Marcus Rashford 0:55
Health Secretary Matt Hancock says he agrees 'very strongly' with Rashford's free school meals campaign, but stands by government policy

The initiative follows on from the successful collaboration to provide 60,000 meals to NHS staff in May between United, Manchester United Foundation, Mealforce and the club's catering supplier, Bidfood.

Collette Roche, Chief Operating Officer at United said: "With our teams back playing, the attention for many has returned to what is happening on the pitch. But our work to help support those in need has not stopped and it will not stop as we face into the winter and the restrictions continue to impact our local communities.

"Many of Manchester's children are going hungry and they are particularly vulnerable during school holidays when they cannot benefit from the meal voucher programme. In parallel with the brilliant work being done individually by Marcus Rashford, we're proud that the club continues to step in alongside FareShare, the Foundation and their partner schools to help fill this void."

PM has not spoken to Rashford since June

Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Image: Prime Minister Boris Johnson has defended his refusal to extend free school meals

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, speaking during a visit to a hospital in Reading, said: "We don't want to see children going hungry this winter, this Christmas, certainly not as a result of any inattention by this Government - and you are not going to see that."

The Prime Minister said he had not spoken to Rashford since June "but what he is doing is terrific".

He added: "We support the local councils - indeed we fund the local councils and many of the organisations that are helping in this period - but we are also uplifting Universal Credit by £1,000 and we think that is one of the best ways you can help families in this tough time.

"I totally understand the issue of holiday hunger, it is there, we have to deal with it. The debate is how do you deal with it."

West Ham joint chairman David Sullivan has personally donated £25,000 to FareShare, the club have announced.

Sullivan said: "Marcus Rashford has done such a fantastic job of raising awareness and leading the way in tackling this very important issue, which impacts so many youngsters in our local communities up and down the country. It is a privilege to be able to help."

Win £250,000 for free!

Win £250,000 for free!

Do not miss your chance to land the £250,000 in this weekend's Super 6 round. Play for free, entries by 3pm.

Around Sky