UK’s Johnson bows to footballer’s pressure to provide summer food fund

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street in London, Britain, June 16, 2020. REUTERS/John Sibley

LONDON (Reuters) – Prime Minister Boris Johnson will provide a summer food fund for struggling families in England, bowing to pressure from England forward Marcus Rashford and his campaign to prevent children from going hungry during the coronavirus pandemic.

British ministers originally said food vouchers given out by schools would not be available over the long summer holiday, prompting the 22-year-old Manchester United forward to take up the cause and reveal how he had relied on such support as a boy.

Before a debate in parliament, and as some lawmakers from the governing Conservative Party called for a change, Johnson’s spokesman said the government would be providing a COVID summer food fund costing around 120 million pounds ($150 million).

“Owing to the coronavirus pandemic, the prime minister fully understands that children and parents face an entirely unprecedented situation over the summer. To reflect this we will be providing a COVID summer food fund,” his spokesman said.

Rashford had written a long letter to the government setting out how he had relied on food parcels as a boy and urging ministers to help those families now who were “existing on a knife’s edge”.

“I don’t even know what to say,” he said on Twitter of the change in policy. “Just look at what we can do when we come together, THIS is England in 2020.”

Reporting by Elizabeth Piper and Kate Holton; editing by Stephen Addison


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