Footballers are known for flashing the cash on sports cars or in VIP clubs, yet their philanthropy often goes unnoticed.
However, England and Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford has become an unlikely hero after influencing Boris Johnson to make a U-turn on free school meals.
While the story made headlines yesterday, after the Prime Minister confirmed all children eligible for free school meals during term-time in England will benefit from the COVID-19 Summer Food Fund, Marcus has actually been busy behind the scenes for months.
Marcus has been raising cash since lockdown began so that underprivileged kids don’t have to go without food. And having relied on handouts himself as a child, he is no stranger to understanding life in poverty.
On a mission to help others, Marcus, 22, joined forces with FareShare – a charity which distributes food to children at schools, community centres and/or breakfast clubs.
During the coronavirus pandemic, kids who relied on free meals faced drastic change as the UK went into lockdown on March 23 – with many schools closing their doors.
Yet having vowed he would always help others that if he ever ended up in a position where he was able to make a difference, Marcus stepped in.
Marcus said: “No child should have to worry where their next meal is coming from.
“What we’re doing with these meals is just another example of the power of football and using your platform. Social media can be very positive.”
Chatting to The Sun, he continued: “I know the problems for real.
“My mum worked all day every day when I was growing up to make sure I had at least one meal on the table every night.
“There was a breakfast club I could go to at school that was free. I used to have school meals and a snack in an after-school club. There were 30 to 40 kids in that.
“Mum finished work at 6pm and I would have to get the bus home, so I wouldn’t see her until 7.30pm and she’d start cooking straight away but it’s a long time [between meals].”
Marcus concluded: “I just thought if there’s a way to help people and kids especially, let’s try and do it. There are people in worse situations than I was in as a kid.
“They’re not even getting that second meal at home.”
Marcus and FareShare set a target to raise £100,000, which could provide meals for 400,000 young people.
He appealed to food companies to donate, and was blown away when corporate giants such as ASDA, Co-op, and Tesco offered products worth millions of pounds.
FareShare have since raised an eye-watering £20million to feed 3m UK kids per week.
The charity’s commercial director, Alyson Walsh, said: “We’ve been blown away by people’s kind words and donations.
“We can’t thank Marcus enough for shining a light on our work. The money raised will help us get much good food on to the plates of vulnerable families.”
When the government initially rejected Marcus’ pleas to donate £15-per-week vouchers to vulnerable kids over the summer holidays, it prompted him to write a letter to Downing Street and sparked a series of tweets that drew national attention.
Needless to say, Bo-Jo then backed down and made a U-turn, stating that a six-week scheme would be on offer for the 1.3million kids eligible for free meals.
For more info, visit FareShare.