Readers respond to the government’s U-turn on free school meals, after a campaign supported by the Manchester United striker
Your editorial on Marcus Rashford (The Guardian view on Marcus Rashford’s triumph: a political masterclass, 16 June) was pitch perfect. This young man’s public appeals to politicians to do the right thing have been heartwarming in their openness and quiet honesty. Even more significantly, some might say worryingly, they showed a clearer understanding of the needs of the poorest people in the country than a prime minister and cabinet who claim to be promoting a “levelling up” agenda for government.
It was no surprise to me to hear a young man who had personally experienced real poverty talk so passionately about the need to take proper care of the UK’s most disadvantaged children. I was for many years the headteacher of a London school where 70% to 80% of the students were entitled to free school meals. Their own hardship didn’t stop them and their parents from regularly making what the head of the local food bank told me were the biggest contributions of food they ever received.
It was doubtless that same sense of community solidarity and care for the most vulnerable that recently saw the headteacher and staff of my old school run a 24-hour non-stop relay on the running track to raise over £10,000 for the families experiencing the greatest need during lockdown.
Very well done, Marcus. You have created a moment of genuine warmth and positivity in these otherwise depressing times.
• Your coverage of the government’s U-turn on free school meals over the summer holiday (Johnson makes U-turn on free school meals after Rashford campaign, 16 June) rightly shone a light on the contribution of Marcus Rashford to the decision. Let’s not, however, forget the solid and committed groundwork put in by campaigning organisations. Sustain and the Good Law Project mounted a legal challenge to the government and 16-year-old Christine A, an ambassador with Bite Back 2030, initiated a Change.org petition that received 266,000 signatures. The Food Foundation, The Soil Association, Feeding Britain and School Food Matters all campaigned tirelessly so that children would not go hungry over the summer.
Alison Swan Parente
• Perhaps the simplest explanation for Marcus Rashford’s masterclass is that football at the highest levels is the only true meritocracy in Britain today. No one gets to the top on the back of parental wealth or position. No one gets to perform in front of thousands of fans because they went to the right school. And now, with more young women realising their football ambitions, the same pattern is emerging. Marcus got to the top due to his talent, something that probably can’t be said for most of the cabinet.
• Perhaps Marcus Rashford might like to call for Dominic Cummings to go?
• Following Marina Hyde’s damning article (Marcus Rashford is showing our failing politicians how to do their jobs, 16 June), I suggest we applaud Marcus Rashford, whose courage and determination exposed Boris Johnson’s inhumanity, by staging a clap for this new hero at 8pm on Friday, just before Manchester United’s game against Tottenham.
Jonathan Croall (a Chelsea fan)
• Is it too soon to commission a statue of Marcus Rashford?