Hundreds more cafes answer Marcus Rashford’s call for free meals for kids

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MARCUS Rashford says he's "proud to be British" after posting a map showing hundreds more cafes joining his free school meals campaign.

The Manchester United forward launched the scheme after MPs voted down an initiative to feed kids during the October half-term break.

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Marcus Rashford has sparked hundreds of businesses into joining forces to give free meals to kids

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Marcus Rashford has sparked hundreds of businesses into joining forces to give free meals to kidsCredit: PA:Press Association

All cafes, pubs and restaurants who have pledged to provide meals for children over the holiday can add their details to an online map which shows the success of the initiative.

Today, Marcus tweeted out a screenshot of the map showing the army of businesses which are now helping out families struggling during the coronavirus lockdown.

He posted: "Ever been more proud of being British?! And we’re still going, wow wow wow #ENDCHILDFOODPOVERTY".

Meanwhile, Rishi Sunak has been accused of "parking the treasury bus" to block Rashford's £20m demand to feed 1.4 million deprived kid.

But amid the backlash against the government, Marcus hit back at Twitter trolls who targeted the families of Tory MPs.

The young footballer insisted he "will not condone personal attacks".

He said: "I want to take a quick second to acknowledge that a number of MPs, and their families, have received unacceptable abuse of the last couple of days, especially on Twitter.

"Believe me, as a Premier League player, I know all to well what that feels like and it's unnecessary. We are all bigger than that."

Dozens of councils have also promised to provide vouchers to low-income families during the half-term holiday.

And McDonald’s heroically stepped in with a million free meals.

The England striker - who forced a Government U-turn over vouchers in the summer holidays and was recently awarded an MBE - started tweeting the details of generous firms and councils on Thursday night.

On Friday, he listed dozens more and said: “Blown away by news of businesses stepping up to fill the voucher scheme deficit during the October half-term."

He also included a list of all the businesses supporting the initiative and a link to donate to Fare Share UK.

Councils have also joined the call to arms, with Birmingham City Council saying said it will provide 61,000 children with vouchers and London’s Southwark Council spending up to £10,000.

LOCAL HEROES

Lesley Berry, 52, who runs Berry’s Tearoom in Brampton, Cumbria, said: “I’ve been there, I was a single mum of three working two jobs to make ends meet.

"I used to dread the holidays, wondering how I’d be able to pay for everything. No one should feel like that.

“I’m in a position now where I can help people who were like me.

“Making a few sandwiches is no hardship but it’ll mean a lot for some families.”

And Will Shaw, 32, and wife Rachel, 26, who run the Astoria bar and restaurant in Manchester, said: “We backed Marcus as soon as MPs rejected his idea."

Children are entitled to free meals from Year Three onward if their parents are on benefit packages including Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Child Tax Credit and Universal Credit, subject to earnings.

Rashford has raised £20m for FareShare and on Thursday he and mum Melanie helped out at one of its Manchester foodbanks.

He has previously told how the single mum relied on free meals and did 14-hour shifts to feed him and his four siblings growing up.

This week, the 22-year-old told Newsnight: "I am truly overwhelmed by the outpouring of support.

"You want to talk about 'celebrities' and 'superstars', look no further than my Twitter feed and that's exactly what you'll find.

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"Growing up we didn't have a lot, but we always had the safety net of the community.

"That community was my family. When we stumbled, we were caught with open arms.

"Even at their lowest point, having felt the devastating effects of the pandemic, local businesses have wrapped arms around their communities today, catching vulnerable children as they fell."

The Man Utd striker was recently awarded an MBE

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The Man Utd striker was recently awarded an MBECredit: PA:Press Association

Marcus and his mum Melanie are helping out at one of FareShare's foodbanks in Manchester

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Marcus and his mum Melanie are helping out at one of FareShare's foodbanks in ManchesterCredit: PA:Press Association
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