McDonald's pledges one million free meals after Marcus Rashford campaign

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Damon Green

McDonald's has announced it will provide one million free meals for vulnerable children following a campaign by England striker Marcus Rashford.

The Manchester United forward, 22, has posted a string of messages to his 3.6million followers, highlighting different backers who have volunteered to help children going hungry.

The viral campaign came after MPs rejected a bid from Labour, backed by Rashford, to extend free school meals over the school holidays until Easter 2021.

McDonald's were among a host of pubs, bars and other businesses to pledge free meals for children following the failed bid by Labour and Rashford.

In a tweet, McDonald's said: "We are proud to announce a partnership with @FareShareUK to provide 1 million meals for families in need. Our funding will enable the urgent redistribution of meals across the next couple of weeks to those in greatest need."

Among the businesses and organisations around the country who offered free food were tea rooms, churches, farms and takeaways.

  • Tory MP who voted for free school meals during school holidays speaks out

Liverpool City Council and the Greater Manchester region both announced subsidised food schemes in the wake of Rashford’s campaign, shortly after both areas went into the toughest lockdown tier in England.

Announcing plans for 1,000 food vouchers via the Co-op, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham tweeted: “Was good to tell @MarcusRashford that we, his home city-region, aim to be the first in the country to achieve his vision.”

After unveiling a similar scheme in his city, Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson tweeted: “Families are struggling more than ever to make ends meet. No child should have to go hungry and in Liverpool we won’t let them. Thanks for your hard work and campaigning @MarcusRashford.”

Southwark Council said it will spend up to £10,000 issuing food vouchers to every eligible pupil to ensure they can get food over half term.

And Birmingham City Council has said it will provide 61,000 children in the city with free school meals vouchers over the half-term.

There have also been major celebrity backers, including Nigella Lawson and comedian Katy Brand, who have donated to the campaign for free meals for vulnerable children. More than £35,000 has been raised so far.

Announcing her support for the campaign, Ms Lawson tweeted: “It shouldn’t have to be this way, but it is more important to feed a hungry child than argue about how it’s done. Or rather, donate if you can and then do what’s necessary to stop those who make children going hungry policy.”

Musician Tim Burgess, a fellow Mancunian, tweeted: “Wow, @MarcusRashford is a true hero of our times. So many MPs should feel shame over the fact that a footballer is helping the needy, more than they are.”

Support also came from across the football world, with ex-England striker and Match of the Day host Gary Lineker posting: “Well played @MarcusRashford. Check his timeline. Extraordinary from a remarkable young man.”

The footballer and his mother visited a food charity to help out after MPs voted against a motion to extend free school meals over the holidays.

The England international helped out at FareShare in Greater Manchester. The charity has just named a new warehouse in honour of the footballer's mum, Melanie.

Marcus Rashford and his mum helped out at a food charity. Credit: PA

Rashford was recently awarded an MBE for campaigning efforts that prompted a government U-turn on the subject of school meals this summer.

After the enormous response to his latest campaign, he tweeted: “Blown away by news of local businesses stepping up to fill the voucher scheme deficit during the October half term. Selflessness, kindness, togetherness, this is the England I know. “Add #ENDCHILDFOODPOVERTY to your tweets so I can track them. I will share as many as I can.”