Rashford thanks businesses for supporting free school meals campaign

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Champions League - Group H - Paris St Germain v Manchester United - Parc des Princes, Paris, France - October 20, 2020 Manchester United's Marcus Rashford REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/File Photo

(Reuters) - Manchester United's Marcus Rashford says he has been "blown away" by local businesses offering support for his free school meals campaign after MPs voted against extending the provision into the half-term and Christmas holidays.

Rashford, who was awarded an MBE for his work in helping vulnerable children during the COVID-19 crisis, forced a government U-turn in July when he won his battle to ensure free meals during school the summer holidays.

Last week, the 22-year-old proposed extending the campaign for families receiving financial assistance from the government, with a petition getting more than 300,000 signatures.

MPs on Wednesday voted against the Labour motion which would have extended free school meals over the holidays until Easter 2021 but dozens of local businesses have since come forward to offer their support in the form of takeaway meals.

"Blown away by news of local businesses stepping up to fill the voucher scheme deficit during the October half term," Rashford tweeted, sharing screenshots of messages from restaurants across Britain.

"Selflessness, kindness, togetherness, this is the England I know."

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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