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MPs to debate child food poverty petition started by Marcus Rashford

MPs will debate a petition later that was started by footballer Marcus Rashford MBE on the topic of ending child food poverty.

The "End child food poverty – no child should be going hungry" petition was set up by Rashford last year and received 1,113,879 signatures, making it one of the most signed e-petitions ever published on Parliament's website.

The petition by the footballer calls on the Government to "support vulnerable children & #endchildfoodpoverty by implementing 3 recommendations from the National Food Strategy to expand access to Free School Meals, provide meals & activities during holidays to stop holiday hunger & increase the value of and expand the Healthy Start scheme."

Last summer, Rashford successfully campaigned to extend free school meal vouchers for eligible pupils during the summer holidays. The government would usually provide free school meals for some pupils during term time and had introduced a national voucher scheme for these students during the coronavirus pandemic when schools were closed. However, the government had originally said the scheme would not be extended for the summer holidays - before later performing a U-turn.

In September, the England and Manchester United footballer launched a task force including some of the UK's biggest supermarket brands to try and help tackle child food poverty in the UK. As part of this, he wrote to every MP in the country to urge them to back his campaign.

The petition which was launched on Parliament's website received an official Government response, with the Department for Education saying that the Government had announced "a comprehensive support package to help families through winter and beyond". 

The debate around child food poverty has though continued, with many calling on the Government to do more to tackle the issues. 

Catherine McKinnell MP, Chair of the Petitions Committee, discussed the petition with Rashford in January, after sending a letter to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in December, in which she called on the Government to set out its plans to tackle child food poverty in the UK. The Petitions Committee has also taken evidence on food poverty, hearing from a range of experts.

Today's debate, which will be opened by Ms McKinnell MP, will last 90 minutes and allow MPs to questions Government Ministers on the topics raised in the petition. The debate will be streamed live on parliamentlive.tv and on YouTube from 16:30.

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