LONDON: Whatever Marcus Rashford mat achieve in his football career the 22-year-old Manchester United forward will never achieve a greater victory than forcing a tin-earned government into a U-turn on free schools meals.

About 1.3m children will now receive six-week meal vouchers during the holidays. Rashford, whose se campaign based on his own childhood experience,  said: “Look at what we can do when we come together.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the move was a “welcome U-turn”.

A Downing Street statement said that all children eligible for free school meals in term time in England would benefit from the “Covid summer food fund.” The support works out as about £15 a week per recipient, and will cost about £120m.

Previously, in the face of criticism from even many of its own MPs, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his ministers had insisted that a one-off grant to local authorities for unspecified issues was suffereint.

In an emotional open letter to MPs posted on Monday, England forward Rashford – who returns to action on the pitch on Friday – drew on his own experience of relying on free school meals and food banks growing up.

Families whose children qualify for free meals have received vouchers or parcels in lockdown.

While provision was already arranged to continue through the summer in Scotland and Wales, it was going to end in England at the end of term.