Friday, December 4News For London

Free School Meals: Necessity amidst Coronavirus?

Marcus Rashford has persuaded the government to invest a large amount of money into the Free School Meals (FSM) scheme.

Photo credited by Halima Ahcene Djaballah

UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson called Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford to donate more than £400m for low-income families from early Christmas.

So what is the FSM scheme exactly?

FSM is a deal for children to receive free school meal vouchers for out of term time. This is thought to help financially deprived households through these challenging times. As well as free meals, the vouchers also consist of health start, education and holiday clubs.

How will this affect hard-hit families due to Coronavirus?

Omar Farooq (29), a teacher of a school in North West London, told Westminster World how he feels about this new scheme. He said: “The area that I teach in, there are some families who are really struggling to make both ends meet.” He added: “especially for younger families who have a single-parent household.” He supports the idea and suggested it should not have come from Marcus Rashford but the government.

We asked 31 people under 30 living in London if this scheme will affect them:

Poll by Rashi Agarwal and Halima Ahcene Djaballah

Is it significant for the government to invest huge income amidst the ongoing second lockdown, economic crisis, and the TFL funding issues?

A recent report found that annual cost of holiday meals will be estimated at £370 million. Omar Farooq, teacher said: “I don’t think schemes that eradicate extreme poverty should have any correlation with the pandemic. These things should be happening anyway.”

Photo credits by Creative Common Images

Marcus Rashford wrote an emotional letter talking about his plight during his childhood. He said: “As a family, we relied on breakfast clubs, free school meals, and the kind actions of neighbours and coaches.”

He further added that: “Food banks and soup kitchens were not alien to us; I recall very clearly our visits to Northern Moor to collect our Christmas dinners every year.”

The petition garnered more than a million signatures since October when the Manchester United footballer raised his voice again for the betterment of the affected school children and their families.

With the Labour party support, the scheme has been extended through the summer holidays. There are various benefits promised by the government:

  • An extra £16m for food banks
  • ”Healthy Start” payments for low earning pregnant women
  • The Holiday Activities and Food programme will run again in Easter, Summer and Christmas in 2021

However, not everyone agrees with the scheme. Some MP’S were against the FSM scheme, one of them being the new Tory MP for Bassetlaw Brendan Clarke-Smith told the Commons: “Where is the slick PR campaign encouraging absent parents to take some responsibility for their children? I do not believe in nationalising children.”

He added: “Instead, we need to get back to the idea of taking responsibility.” Referring implicitly to Marcus Rashford, he added: “This means less celebrity virtue signalling on Twitter by proxy and more action to tackle the real causes of child poverty.”

With all this in mind, it is evident that this scheme will benefit a lot of low-income families in the UK.

However is it foolish or inspirational that PM Boris Johnson’s change of heart was due to a Manchester United footballer who has a mass young fan following?

Photo credits by Creative Common Images

External Sources:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-54725750

https://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/15148

https://inews.co.uk/news/politics/free-school-meals-vote-who-voted-against-how-my-mp-marcus-rashford-campaign-733881

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