Number 10 has rejected calls from Marcus Rashford to provide free school meals to children during all school holidays to end food poverty.
The England striker’s petition urging the Government to go further in tackling child hunger hit 100,000 signatures just 10 hours after it was launched.
The petition – which calls for food to be provided during all holidays and for free school meals to be expanded to all households on Universal Credit – will now be considered for debate by MPs after securing the signatures.
The Welsh Government has decided to provide free school meals during the school holidays until Easter next year.
But Downing Street indicated on Thursday that ministers would not provide free school meals to children in England during the Christmas break.
A No 10 spokesman said: “We took that decision to extend free school meals during the pandemic when schools were partially closed during lockdown. We’re in a different position now with schools back open to all pupils.
“It’s not for schools to regularly provide food to pupils during the school holidays.
“We believe the best way to support families outside of term time is through Universal Credit rather than Government subsidising meals.”
Rashford, who forced a Government U-turn on free school meal vouchers for eligible pupils over the summer holidays, has hit back at the comments.
The Manchester United footballer, who has just been made an MBE for his services to vulnerable children, said: “Merry Christmas kids…
“It’s also not for food banks to feed millions of British children but here we are. 250% increase in food poverty and rising…
“This is not going away anytime soon and neither am I…”
There are the most scathing reactions to this decision.