Big week for Marcus Rashford on and off the pitch

Marcus Rashford continues to make a difference on and off the pitch to provide free meals for underprivileged children in the UK. Photo by Oli Scarff / AFP – Getty Images

Peter Burtnett
Sports Editor

With the return of the UEFA Champions League Tuesday, Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford provided the winning goal against Paris Saint-Germain, but perhaps his greatest contribution is his work off the football pitch.

While an 87th-minute winner against the best team from France to kick off a Champions League campaign may get more attention and praise, Rashford’s week didn’t end with a low stunner of a shot that roared past PSG keeper Keylor Navas. 

Instead, he continued a fight he has been a part of for the majority of 2020: providing free meals for less-fortunate children in the United Kingdom. Although this sort of effort began in October 2019, the coronavirus pandemic ramped up Rashford’s efforts to support children who struggle to get their next meal, which was a struggle he faced as a child.

 “In the past I have done a lot of work in regards to children and when I heard about the schools shutting down, I knew that meant free meals for some kids that they are not getting at school,” Rashford told The Guardian in March of this year. “I remember when I was at school I was on free meals and my mum wouldn’t get home until around six o’clock so my next meal would have been about eight o’clock. I was fortunate, and there are kids in much more difficult situations that don’t get their meals at homes.

“It [helping children] is very important [to me], it is at the top of my to-do list. In our generation there have been a lot of positive and negative influences. I am just trying to impact the next generation in a positive way.”

Six months later, the rejection of a plan to provide meals for “hungry school children over Christmas” by the Conservative Party has caused Rashford to once again pressure the government and forge a national coalition to provide these meals.

Rashford’s pressure calls for the government to extend the meal voucher plan worked out earlier in the year to extend through Easter 2021 and provide for 1.5 million school children.

This action led to a vote in the House of Commons, but the vote was rejected 322 votes to 261 on Wednesday. In the days since, Rashford has taken to social media to promote businesses and councils offering free meals during the school break.

The fight will continue, but for now, Rashford continues to do big things on and off the pitch. The 22-year-old also recently received an MBE for his work tackling food poverty.

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