Marcus Rashford: Feeding Britain’s Kids – inside his marketing campaign to sort out little one starvation
Marcus Rashford: Feeding Britain’s Children will air on BBC One on Monday 21 December
“There were times when there was no food so you just went to sleep. The people closest to me knew about the situation that I and my family were going through, but my teammates and coaches didn’t.”
At the beginning of 2020, Marcus Rashford was a Manchester United and England football player. He will end it as an internationally recognized social justice activist related to child food poverty. His work in providing free school lunches in England during the holidays and other assistance to low-income families led to significant changes in government policy.
This work has won a number of awards – he was named an MBE on the Queen’s Birthday Honors List and was recognized at both the Best Fifa Football Awards and the Best Fifa Football Awards BBC Sports Personality of the Year, and was added to the annual Football Black List.
In a new documentary – Marcus Rashford: Feeding British Children, It will air on Monday on BBC One – the 23-year-old lets us into his family life and his campaign to fight child food poverty.
Marcus Rashford meets the London family, who are supported by food vouchers for the summer holidays
“Sometimes we didn’t even have a loaf of bread” – Rashford’s background
The film gives a unique insight into Rashford’s childhood.
His mother Mel – a single mother of five – explains how she had three jobs when Rashford was growing up.
While working as a bookmaker’s cashier, she took another job in the business. “I used to finish my shift and then go back and clean,” she says, adding, “I also washed in the pot on a Saturday.”
Mel says there were times when she served food for her children but there wouldn’t be enough for herself.
“Sometimes we didn’t even have a loaf of bread in the house,” she says. “But I wouldn’t tell anyone that I have problems – it was embarrassing.”
In one scene from the documentary, Rashford visits Wythenshawe – the area in south Manchester where he grew up. He reflects on how local businesses supported him and his family.
“If they knew my mom was in work, they’d just give me some chips or something,” he says.
Marcus Rashford’s mother says she worked three jobs but sometimes couldn’t afford to support herself
Rashford joined Manchester United when he was seven. Four years later he moved into club accommodation.
“It was a big decision to make,” explains Mel. “But because I worked at night, there wasn’t really anyone to look after him.”
Rashford credits his mother for teaching him the values he is proud of and she was instrumental in his efforts to fight food poverty during the coronavirus pandemic.
In the film we learn that the soccer player took her and his brothers to a house near Wythenshawe.
Mel says, “Marcus gave me a home and I sometimes just sit there crying to think about where we’re from.”
Rashford says: “I think in sport you have to have something behind you that drives you.
“When you come from a place of struggle and pain, it changes often and it becomes your drive and motivation.”
“Did you experience these things?” – Rashford’s campaign begins
Rashford’s campaign began after Britain was banned from the coronavirus pandemic in March.
He started working with FareShare to raise funds to provide meals to people in need.
In June he has the BBC said that around £ 20 million had been raised to provide three million meals.
He then wrote an open letter to MPs calling on the government to reverse the decision not to offer free school meals during the summer holidays. At that time, around 1.3 million low-income children in England were eligible for free school meals and the government had provided assistance with the first lockdown in April.
Rashford was driven by his own experience.
Marcus Rashford: The Manchester United forward declares his commitment to helping children in poverty
“The system wasn’t designed for families like mine to thrive, regardless of how hard my mother worked,” he wrote.
In the BBC film, he says it was “atypical” for him to find out about something so personal, but he thinks it was necessary.
“The people who make decisions – have they experienced these things?” he asks.
Shortly after Rashford published his letter, the government overturned its decision.
Mel says she is “overjoyed” and adds, “I must have called him about 20 times!”
“The breakfast club grew from 30 to 70 kids” – Rashford goes back to school and meets with charities
The campaign didn’t stop; The film follows Rashford as he pushes for further support.
In touching scenes he visits his elementary school Button Lane.
Headmistress Emma Roberts tells him she’s so proud of what he does, and Rashford talks to students and shares his stories of making friends for life at the breakfast club.
Jackie Jones, the school’s security officer, describes how the number of families seeking support from the breakfast club has increased since the pandemic began.
“The breakfast club has grown from 30 to 70 kids,” she tells Rashford. “It used to be about families with parents who work – it’s about families who don’t have the facilities or the money to support themselves.”
Rashford also visits a community shop in south London that works with charities to distribute surplus groceries from supermarkets to low-income families.
They say the waiting list of families wanting to use their services over the summer has grown and they are concerned about what will happen when the school voucher program ends.
“It is so insensitive” – the campaign continues well into winter
In September, Rashford formed a task force of major UK grocery brands and supermarkets.
Together, they called for three National Food Strategy policy recommendations to be funded by the government as soon as possible: expanding free school meals to reach more children, expanding existing school holiday food and activity programs, and increasing the value of vouchers for a healthy start – helping pregnant women and parents with children under the age of four – reaching an additional 290,000 people.
The government replied that it had already stepped up support for local authorities and universal credit.
“It was almost like there was no emotional connection,” says Rashford. “They named the things that they did for the past six years, but if those things worked, I wouldn’t be doing what I am doing.”
A petition launched by Rashford calling on the government to offer free school meals in England during school holidays. reached a million signatures in October. A Labor motion for free school lunches during school holidays in England was discussed in the House of Commons, but the motion was denied.
“Has any of the government officials talking about this had a life where they can literally afford to buy groceries and pay bills and that’s it?” Asks Rashford.
“I doubt they have it. The way they talk about it is so insensitive. To me, it’s like they don’t have enough understanding of the subject.”
After the vote, countless companies, councils, charities and other organizations from across the country came out to show support and free meals offered Families struggle over school holidays.
Rashford used his social media account to publicize the organizations involved.
“Seeing so many people across the country doing it on their own – it was just a really proud moment for me,” he says.
“I’m glad we got to that stage – Rashford’s call from the Prime Minister … what’s next?
After great public pressure, the government decided to provide additional support to families in need over the winter.
At one incredible moment in the film, Rashford receives a personal call from Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlining the changes his administration would make.
“I take it you just played Everton?” says the Prime Minister, before asking if he scored. A humble Rashford replies that he got some support and that his mother just pissed him off for missing a header.
Johnson went on to explain his government’s plans to provide assistance to vulnerable families in England over the winter. These include a £ 170 million Covid Winter Scholarship program to feed the most vulnerable, £ 220 million to provide additional food and activities for children during school holidays, an additional £ 16 million to food distribution charities and an increase in the value of vouchers for a healthy start.
“Families deserve the U-turn” – Marcus Rashford
A dedicated fund of £ 170 million from the support package will be distributed through the councils, with at least 80% earmarked for assistance with food and bills.
Rashford takes it at his own expense. And it doesn’t sound like he’s going to stop there.
“I’m glad we got to that stage,” he says. “But I can’t stop thinking about what the bigger picture is.”
If any of the issues in this article has affected you and you need help, There are a number of organizations and initiatives that you can turn to