Rashford given award by teaching union for free school meals campaign

Eleanor Busby, PA Education Correspondent

Footballer Marcus Rashford has been given an award by a teaching union for his efforts in fighting child food poverty.

The National Education Union (NEU) has recognised the England and Manchester United striker for his campaign to ensure children eligible for free school meals were still given food during the holidays amid the pandemic.

During the union’s virtual annual conference, the Fred & Anne Jarvis Award – which recognises the contribution of individuals who have campaigned on educational issues – was given to Rashford.

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Accepting the award, the footballer said: “A big thank you to NEU for giving me this award. I feel really privileged and honoured to receive this award.

“I’m obviously very happy and grateful for the support that I’ve been given, just by the nation really, and I feel like together we’ve pushed each other to strive for more – and hopefully we can continue to do that.”

Nominations for the award came from nine NEU branches, including Manchester NEU who said Rashford “has made a huge impact on children’s lives across the UK, and as such has been a credit to Manchester schools”.

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: “Covid has brought into sharp focus how poverty affects children’s health, mental well-being and their education.

“Marcus Rashford knows from personal experience how vital free school meals are, but access was under threat for millions of others at several points during the pandemic.

“Marcus has played a committed and inspirational role in speaking up for young people affected by poverty, keeping food on their table.

“We have no doubt he will be a powerful campaigner on this issue for many years to come.”