Everything you need to know about Marcus Rashford, the footballer fighting for free school meals

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  • Marcus Rashford is the name on everybody’s lips after the football star championed a campaign to end child food poverty last year and extend the free school meal voucher scheme. MP’s originally voted against free school meals, affecting around 1.3 million vulnerable children last summer, but thanks to the campaign lead by Marcus, the government eventually made a U-turn on their controversial and widely condemned decision.

    Having been made an MBE for his services in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, Marcus hasn’t stopped there and continues to hold the government to account over their provision of food for vulnerable children and families.

    The football player recently pushed the government to launch an investigation into the food parcels organised by school meals supplier, Chartwells, which he described as “scandalously inadequate” during a call to Boris Johnson.

    After the backlash, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson re-instated the Free School Meals voucher scheme, meaning parents can shop for their kids’ lunches themselves.

    Boris Johnson even went as far as to praise the footballer during Prime Minister’s Questions, saying, “I don’t think anybody is happy with the disgraceful images that we’ve seen of the food parcels that have been offered, they are appalling and they are an insult to families.

    “I’m grateful by the way to Marcus Rashford, who has highlighted the issue and is doing quite an effective job by comparison with (Sir Keir Starmer) in holding the Government to account for these issues.”

     

    So who exactly is Marcus Rashford, the footballer fighting for free school meals and winning praise from everyone including the Prime Minister and the Queen?

    Why did Marcus Rashford start his campaign about free school means in the UK?

    Marcus Rashford became involved in the campaign for free school meals in 2020, when school closures in lockdown meant that children in need might have missed out on the free daily meal provided by schools – a lifeline for many families.

    Marcus has personal experience of the system, having received free school meals whilst growing up in Wythenshawe, Manchester. He has since become an advocate and campaigner against ending child food poverty in the UK.

    Opening up about his childhood and experience of poverty in his BBC documentary, Marcus Rashford: Feeding Britain’s Children, he said, “There were times when there wasn’t any food, so you’d just go to sleep. The people that were closest to me knew about the situation me and my family were going through, but my team-mates and coaches didn’t.”

    What was Marcus Rashford famous for before his Free School Meals campaign?

    Many people will have known who Marcus Rashford was before he championed the cause to end child food poverty in the UK because he is one of the most successful young footballers in the country. Marcus plays for Manchester United and England, although he was unable to play for a brief period last year after sustaining a stress fracture in his back during a game against Wolverhampton.

    Marcus Rashford

    Marcus Rashford plays for Manchester United football team

    He started working on recovery and rehabilitation in March last year and made his return to the pitch in June 2020.

    Marcus’ estimated net worth is £65 million. This is thanks to football contracts, endorsement deals and investments.

    In 2019, the sportsman signed a fresh contract with Manchester United. The contract was reportedly worth £200,000 a week. With the deal running until 2023, Marcus is projected to earn £10 million a year from football alone.

    What is Marcus Rashford’s charity?

    As well as lobbying for change from the government, Marcus partnered with FareShare – a charity fighting hunger and food waste by redistributing surplus food to frontline charities.

    Marcus became an ambassador for the charity in March 2020. He continues to work with FareShare, who provided more than 3.7 million meals per week during the pandemic last year.

    The young football star has raised more than £20 million since partnering up with the charity.

    FareShare CEO, Lindsay Boswell, said, “We’re enormously grateful to Marcus Rashford for his unstinting support of FareShare – helping us get food onto the plates of over 3m vulnerable children.

    “His tireless campaigning work to ensure that no child in this country should go hungry over the school summer holidays has delivered fantastic results. A move to continue funding free school meals over the summer months will be a huge relief to struggling families across the UK, many of whom have faced unimaginable strain during this crisis.

    He went on to receive a Pride of Britain award for all of his philanthropic work. On receiving the award, he said, “I am extremely humbled but I’d like to think that I am receiving this award on behalf of all the incredible people who have selflessly stepped up to support their communities during this pandemic.”

    How old is Marcus Rashford and who are his parents?

    Marcus is 23-years-old. His parents are Robert and Melanie Rashford. Marcus is incredibly close with his mum and credits his hugely successful football career to her. This is because she helped push him through the ranks at Manchester United’s academy at an early age.

    He revealed, “The programme that I started at 11 years old, you’re supposed to start it at 12 years old. It basically gives you accommodation closer to the training facilities and a new school.

    “She worked hard to push it forward, because she knew that for me it was the step I needed to take. I needed to be eating the right foods and I needed to be close to my teammates and my new school friends.

    “She made that decision when I was 11 and United allowed it, so that was the reason why I ended up going at a younger age compared to the others.”

    Marcus has two brothers, Dane Rashford and Dwaine Maynard. His siblings currently represent him, acting as Marcus’ managers after forming their own talent agency. Talk about keeping it in the family!

    What school did Marcus Rashford go to?

    Marcus was a student at Button Lane Primary School in Manchester. One of his former teachers, Simon Pyne, says he knew he would go far even when he was a child.

    “He always wanted to give back,” Simon revealed. “Always stayed in touch with his area. He has a couple of really close friends, former classmates and I think he wanted to help people like them.

    “Marcus also has a strong family behind him who would have been rooting for this as well.”

    The promising junior football star then continued his studies at the Ashton on Mersey school – a place that has provided education for Man United’s young trainees since 1998.

    Is Marcus Rashford in a relationship?

    Yes. Marcus Rashford is in a relationship with PR executive Lucia Loi, 22.

    It is thought the couple have been together since at least 2016. Prior to making her Instagram account private, Lori shared a photo of the two of them together, which now sits on a fan account.

    She was also spotted in the stands during the England vs. Colombia game at the 2018 World Cup.

    However, apart from Lori showing up to support Marcus at games, the pair intentionally keep their relationship out of the spotlight. So you won’t see any magazine covers features these two any time soon!