Gordon Brown backs Marcus Rashford’s call for free school meals to be extended

Number 10 said it had “taken action to make sure children don’t go hungry”, but in a tweet Rashford said it was “not for food banks to feed millions of British children”, adding: “This is not going away any time soon, and neither am I…”

Mr Brown told BBC Breakfast he does not “accept the Government’s reply” and called on Boris Johnson to look at the situation “instead of sending out a standard reply”.

He said: “Scotland and Wales are already doing this, and I think people will ask why children in some of the most poverty-stricken areas of the country are going to be denied it during the school holidays. 

“I don’t accept the Government’s reply, and I think Boris Johnson should look at this personally instead of sending out a standard reply. I think on reflection he will decide that it’s a small price to pay to keep children out of poverty during these mid-term and Christmas holidays. 

“It would be tragic that, during the Christmas break, children were going without food. This would be something that I don’t think any parent would want.”

Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, told Times Radio: “Well, I think the Government made the right choice some months ago when they extended free school meals over the summer. They need to make that right choice now in my view, so I’m firmly behind Marcus Rashford on this.

“There needs to be a plan. It’s a real issue, food insecurity, which affects millions of families – and it’s not going to go away any time soon. So I think now is the time to be bold and generous for these families.

“It makes such a difference and again, when we’re trying to build children’s confidence, when we try to give them the best start to rebuild what they’ve lost, this is really important.”

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