UK gov’t agrees to fund free school meals for poorest children

The British government agreed to fund free meals for the poorest children over the winter period in a major policy reversal, local media reported.

The move came after a sustained campaign by footballer Marcus Rashford against child poverty. MPs of the ruling Conservative party had previously voted down a motion of the opposition Labour Party to extend free school meals for vulnerable kids during the school holidays, arguing that existing support measures were sufficient, Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday.

The British government will spend about 400 million pounds (about US $526.3 million), including a fund of 170 million pounds (about US $223.7 million) to be distributed through local councils that would go to help families with food and bills, said the BBC in a report.

Over the past months, Downing Street has under mounting pressure to perform a U-turn on providing free school meals over the holidays in England, with Conservative MPs growing angry at the damaging impact of the government’s refusal to back down in the face of the campaign led by the footballer.

Under the new COVID-19 lockdown rules, which came into force on Thursday as the second toughest social curbs since the start of the pandemic in the country, schools, colleges and universities remain open in England.

To bring life back to normal, countries including Britain, China, Russia and the United States are racing against time to develop coronavirus vaccines.