The site endchildpoverty.org has two goals: to enable vulnerable families to access support over the Christmas break via an interactive map that lists local support facilities, and to encourage nationwide support, donations, and volunteers to fight food poverty.
Many local authorities, businesses, food banks, NGOs, charities, and sporting organisations have pledged their support, offering food to support vulnerable young people and families throughout what will likely be a very tough winter.
During the first six months of the pandemic, the Food Foundation reported that nearly 14% of parents experienced food insecurity – including skipping meals, going hungry but not eating – often to ensure their children had food on the table. It was revealed that 4 million people (2.3 million children) live in these households.
The website is the latest campaign activity in the England and Manchester United Footballer’s tireless efforts, campaigning for free school meals. Following a major public campaign, the government allocated £170 million to local authorities in the emergency winter grants scheme.
Having experienced food hardship when he was growing up, Marcus Rashford – who just this weekend received a Special Panel Award at the BBC Sports Personality show honouring his work tackling child food poverty – explains his hopes for the website:
“Following the Government investment, it was important to me that we supported by communicating on the help available in local areas, working closely with local authorities, so that our vulnerable families know where to turn when faced with the toughest winter on record.” Says Rashford.
“In partnership with Co-op and Google, we have developed a central hub for those who need help and those who want to help. That second function was really important to me – everyone has a role to play in ending child food poverty in the UK and we wanted to support those who want to make a difference.”
There is still so much more to be done but the least children deserve this year, after loss and disruption, is a Christmas dinner on the table.
15-year-old Tyler from Blackburn has seen firsthand how food poverty can affect people. He says, “My friends who have free school meals during term time already face being bullied about it, but at least they get the meal they need. But during the holidays, when we hang out together, they are clearly ashamed that they don’t have enough money to buy basics, like a drink or a bite to eat.
“This can really divide kids and make those that go without feel excluded. The holidays, which we are meant to look forward to, are instead just really stressful.”
Tonight, the BBC will show a major new documentary to coincide with the launch of #EndChildFoodPoverty which follows Marcus Rashford’s campaigning journey and the lead up to his victory, securing government support for more than 1 million children in England. Marcus Rashford: Feeding Britain’s Children airs tonight at 7pm on BBC One.
The Child Food Poverty Task Force
In March this year, Marcus Rashford joined forces with FareShare, a charity fighting hunger in some of the UK’s most vulnerable communities, making several significant financial donations and calling on his followers for donations and support. This partnership helped raise enough money to provide over 4.2 million meals for children and families who struggle to eat during the pandemic.
Founded by the footballer, the Child Food Poverty Task Force now includes more than 20 businesses and charities who have used their platforms to share real-life stories of vulnerable people affected by food poverty and child food insecurity.
If you need support right now, visit endchildfoodpoverty.org to find services in your local area.
You can register your business, donate or volunteer your time on the #EndChildFoodPoverty website.