Marcus Rashford's end child food poverty petition gains 1 million signatures

Marcus Rashford has been volunteering at food banks as part of his campaign to end child hunger. Credit: PA

A Parliamentary Petition launched by Marcus Rashford has become only the fifth petition of its kind to reach 1 million signatures.

Mr Rashford has been campaigning for the government to 'end child food poverty' and extend free school meals for children during the school holidays.

Last week the government voted against extending free school meals during the half-term break prompting a backlash as councils and businesses across the country offered them instead.

Over 1000 businesses have signed up to offering meals to eligible children - a map of them can be found here.

England is the only UK nation to have not extended free school meals through half-term.

Marcus Rashford was honoured at the Pride of Britain awards. Credit: Pride of Britain

Rashford has been using his social media platforms to highlight the efforts of local communities and calling on the public to sign his petition.

He tweeted on Monday: "Let's take a second to remember that a lot of families in need will not have access to the internet. They can't sign petitions or scroll down my twitter.

"Their voices cannot be heard so we have to use ours to communicate on all of this amazing local help. Thank you all."

In response to the row, the Government has insisted it is in the process of examining how holiday clubs could be used to feed hungry children.

The Holiday Activity and Food Programme is the brainchild of Henry Dimbleby, the Government's food tsar and co-founder of the Leon restaurant chain, and was trialled across 17 local authorities over the summer.

It is too late to implement the scheme for half-term, which is either this week or next week for most schools but may be in place by Christmas.

The charity the Food Foundation said 1.4 million children (18% of 8-17 year olds) reported experiences of food insecurity over the summer holidays. 

Credit: PA

Earlier today it was announced that Rashford would be awarded a City of Manchester award for his campaign.

The award was introduced as a way of recognising an individual’s ‘outstanding and exceptional contribution to the city’.  

 Cllr Tommy Judge, incoming Lord Mayor of Manchester, said: "The way he and his wonderful family has stood up for what they believe in, the way they have given a voice to the powerless has been remarkable to see.

"And the pride we feel in Wythenshawe for what he and his family have done is huge."