Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford has made it into the headlines outside of the sports pages once again. The 22-year-old has formed a task force with some of the biggest brands in the UK food industry, which aims to create a sustainable, long-term solution to child food poverty.

At the height of the coronavirus pandemic in the United Kingdom, Rashford successfully campaigned to extend free school meals into this summer. He did this by personally writing to Members of Parliament and telling them about the kind of help that a significant number of families need.

Rashford's words held a lot of weight as he spoke from his own experience as a child who relied on the government's food voucher scheme while growing up.

According to the BBC, some of the brands that got on board Rashford's initiative are Aldi, Asda, Co-op, Deliveroo, FareShare, Food Foundation, Iceland, Kellogg's, Lidl, Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose. Together, they are backing proposals by the National Food Strategy on the improvement of UK food policy.

Rashford knows that the short-term solution of extending meal assistance into this summer is only a band-aid solution. Hence, he is spearheading this task force which will hopefully be able to change lives for the better in a more sustainable and long-term basis. Having a team of food industry experts is one way to get sound advice on how to move forward with the initiative.

"We had to think about the best way to do it, to think about how these families can eat long term and not have any issues," he said.

The three policy recommendations that have been put forward are as follows:

  1. Expanding free school meals to every child from a household on Universal Credit or equivalent, reaching an additional 1.5m children aged seven to 16
  2. Expanding holiday food and activities to support all children on free school meals, reaching an additional 1.1m children
  3. Increasing the value of the Healthy Start vouchers from £3.10 to £4.25 per week and expanding it to all those on Universal Credit or equivalent, reaching an additional 290,000 children under the age of four and pregnant women
Marcus Rashford
UK Govt changes policy after Marcus Rashford's call for free school meals for the poorest children AFP / Oli SCARFF