A cadre of celebrity cooks have joined Marcus Rashford’s fight to overhaul England’s free school meals system.
Jamie Oliver, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Tom Kerridge have signed a letter alongside the footballer and Dame Emma Thompson calling on the government to “urgently fix” a system which is still “excluding” some children.
The letter, addressed to the Prime Minister and Education Secretary, reveals that “2 in 5 UK children under the poverty line are missing out” due to not being eligible for free school meals.
It also urges the government to reconsider whether current funding is enough and find ways to support schools in providing the best quality meals.
Campaigners have asked ministers to consider the review in parliament before the 2021 summer holidays.
The free school meals debate was reignited this week when images of low-quality food parcels went viral on social media.
Rashford confirmed he spoke to Boris Johnson about the quality of the contents – with the PM concurring that the current meals being distributed in England were ‘unacceptable’.
These sentiments were echoed by Education Minister Gavin Williamson – who pledged to take “urgent action to make sure lunch parcels meet the standards we expect.”
On Friday (January 15) Shadow Education Secretary and MP for Stretford and Urmston Kate Green told Good Morning Britain that parents could “get better value” with funding to create food parcels themselves.
Rashford’s battle for an improved free school meals system dates back to the beginning of the pandemic – with the Manchester United striker winning numerous accolades and starring in a documentary on the BBC following him on his mission.
Writing on Twitter, Rashford stated: “It’s 2021. Our eyes are open. Now is the time for a full major review of the Free School Meal system.”
Chorlton community rallies around local family in need after heartwarming appeal
A Manchester mum has been blown away by her local community’s kindness after posting an appeal on Facebook asking for help feeding her kids.
After her son’s Disability Living Allowance was changed, leaving the family waiting for a payment with nothing in the cupboards, Lisa Cerven took to the Chorlton M21 Facebook group to ask if anyone could donate some food to tide them over.
Starting by saying that she felt “very ashamed to be asking”, she continued to explain that her son’s DLA had been changed until next week – even though she was originally meant to be getting it this Tuesday.
She continued to say that she was planning to get “a nice big shop in” as both of her kids “eat a lot”, but as the result of her son being moved onto a new benefits system, they would now have to go without for another week.
Elaborating further, she said that “it has really really messed me up” and explained that she had “literally got nothing in”, adding: “if anyone has anything food wise spare I was hoping maybe you could help”.
The post continued: “My electric will be fine until Tuesday when I get £20 and we can cope with no gas for a while with blankets and stuff (please no hate).
“I have tried a few things and we got by until now but even if it’s just for my kids I don’t care about myself, anything will help.
“Again I’m terribly sorry for being cheeky, even any food banks that can deliver or are close to me that are open now, thank you.”
The post, first shared on Sunday, quickly saw locals pile into the comments section with offers of help.
From people running food banks offering to “send out whatever food you need”, to offers from locals to send a takeaway to the house and come by and drop off money for gas, Lisa has been inundated with support from all angles.
One person said: “Where about you are I will drop you some money for gas”
Another person said: “If you need anything I’m happy to help. Send a bit of money or take you do a little shop. xx”
A third added: “I can drop some fruit and veg off now if you message me”
A fourth said: “If it is any help I can transfer you some funds, it won’t be anything big but something enough for you to get yourself some warmth in the house as I don’t want you and your kids keeping cold in these difficult cold days to come.”
Within a few hours of the post being, Lisa commented underneath to say: “Turning the comments off! Had the most amazing replies! This community really is the best!!! THANK YOU to everyone xxx”
Speaking to The Manc about the donations she’s received, she added: “This community has been absolutely amazing.”
As well as a large number of people commenting on Facebook with offers of help, others sent messages of solidarity and support for her situation.
One person wrote: “You’ve got nothing to be ashamed of it’s the Government that should be ashamed. Bless you I hope you get what you need and even more to help you along a bit.”
Another said: “Lisa Cerven please please don’t feel ashamed for asking for help! I admire you for reaching out. Times are so hard at the moment, it shouldn’t be happening but it is.
“It looks like you’ve had lots of offers of help from the community since you’ve posted this but if you don’t manage to get what you need please don’t hesitate to contact me and I’ll help where I can. Sending you my love xxxx”
A third added: “Pls never feel ashamed to ask Lisa, if you can’t rely on your community then we are in a dire state. x”
A fourth said: “I have spoken with this lady tonight and I must say I’m so proud of our local community who have helped her. It means so much to her and her kids and it’s took a lot for her to ask.”
Feature image – Commons Wikimedia
She wrote: “Hi I feel very ashamed to be asking but my sons dla has been changed until next week.
“I was meant to get it on Tuesday and was meant to get a nice big shop in both
Richard Keys and Andy Gray to give first UK TV interview since sexism scandal
Former Sky Sports presenting duo Richard Keys and Andy Gray are set to give their first UK interview since they were sacked for a number of sexist remarks back in 2011.
Once regular mainstays on the Premier League‘s long-term broadcasting partner, Keys and Gray haven’t made any British media appearances since their high-profile scandal which highlighted the prevailing sexism in football at the time and, sadly, is still underlying throughout large sections of sport today.
Now, after being approached by fellow controversial TV personality Piers Morgan, the punditry pair will be discussing the incident on national television for the first time in more than a decade, as well as reflecting on their careers since then.
Keys and Gray have been consigned to working on the Qatari network beIN SPORTS since 2013 after they went from being among the most well-known sports commentators to two of the most vilified public figures in the early 2010s.
For anyone still unaware even all the years later, the two Sky employees were caught making a number of sexist comments towards then lineswoman, Sian Ellis-Massey, in a leaked audio recording during which Keys remarked: “someone better go down there and explain the offside rule to her”.
Responding to the jibe, Gray responded by saying “Can you believe that, a female linesman… women don’t know the offside rule”, before his partner in crime responded, “the game’s gone mad”.
Ellis-Massey went on to become the UK’s first female referee and remains one of the leading officials in English football, having also adjudicated games in the Europa League and Women’s World Cup.
To make matter worse, a clip of Keys making similarly inappropriate and offensive remarks while having a conversation with Jamie Redknapp in the Sky Sports studio was also unearthed shortly after, as the lead anchor made a series of crass jokes about sex with the footballer’s former girlfriend.
Speaking in a now infamous BT interview shortly after, Keys insisted that his behaviour was “just banter” and seemed to offer little genuine remorse following the outburst.
Gray has also had little to say about his “unacceptable comments” in the years following, so it’s fair to say a fair few people will be tuning in to watch how the two approach this sit-down.
Andy Gray and Richard Keys’ Piers Morgan Uncensored interview airs at 8pm on TalkTV on Monday, 28 November.
Featured Image — beIN SPORTS/Piers Morgan (via Twitter)