“Sometimes a lot of young people are afraid of making mistakes,” says Marcus Rashford. “When I was younger, my brother always said to me, ‘If you don’t make mistakes, you can never be who you want to be. ‘So I try to use the same words of his in this environment – and it works. “
The professional footballer speaks at the launch of his latest food poverty campaign. At the age of only 23, he was already successfully campaigning for the extension of free school meals during the school holidays and secured better meal vouchers for young families with low incomes. And it doesn’t stop there.
Football may dominate the headlines this week for other reasons, but Rashford has his eyes firmly on social justice. Through his Child Food Poverty Task Force, he continues to call for free school meals to be extended to all under 16s with a parent or guardian receiving universal credit or equivalent.
He also wants to empower families to enjoy cooking with the resources they have. And this is where his new campaign, Full Time, comes in. Full Time was created in partnership with Chef Tom Kerridge to “fill hungry bellies” and “full time” to fight child poverty.
Kerridge has developed 52 affordable recipes starting at 25p per serving and available on recipe cards in supermarkets. The recipes come with simple instructions, plus a QR code that links to tutorial videos on Instagram hosted by Kerridge, Rashford, and a selection of celebrity guests.
“We’re going to get back to basics in a moment,” says Kerridge. “It’s like learning to ride a bike with stabilizers right from the start. This is peeling carrots, peeling potatoes, and dicing onions. No tagines are made or beef brisket braised here. “
Many of the recipes focus on ingredients available with Healthy Start Coupons. Healthy Start offers coupons for milk, fruit, vegetable and legumes purchases to young pregnant women and low-income families with children under four in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The Rashford Child Food Poverty Task Force worked successfully on behalf of the government to increase the value of vouchers from £ 3.10 to £ 4.25.
He hopes the new system will raise awareness that the coupons exist, while removing the stigma that prevents eligible families from accessing them. “If you need something and help is there, it can be used,” he says. “There’s nothing wrong with that.”
Rashford had free school meals as a child and his mother used the grocery bank, but these support systems are often insufficient to keep children from getting hungry. “I remember falling asleep at school sometimes,” he says. “I just hadn’t eaten the food [I needed] So I wasn’t awake. I would literally just fall asleep.
“For some of these children, they may dream of being scientists, but imagine that you are in a science class and you are always being tempted. I don’t want that to happen. “
The subject is also very close to Kerridge’s heart. His single mother had two jobs, and while he feels “lucky” never to have gotten hungry, they certainly still had a limited budget. At age 14, Kerridge was in charge of dinner for himself and his younger brother. Children this age don’t need fancy recipes, he says, they need the confidence to turn on the oven and know when the fish fingers are cooked.
The “ultimate fish finger sandwich” is one of the recipes that the duo created. Others include tortilla pizzas, stir-fried chicken satay, and spaghetti bolognese. The recipes use cups to measure ingredients, eliminate the need for weighing scales, and require minimal equipment.
Rashford reminds us how young he is and admits that it was only with the help of Kerridge that he learned to cook in lockdown. His favorite recipe? “Um … what was in that pan?” he asks the cook with a laugh. Obviously, he didn’t make it twice.
Full-time skeptics might suggest that the idea that families starve because of poor cooking skills, and not because of income or our inconsistent welfare system. Kerridge admits the program is not a “silver bullet” to eradicate poverty, but hopes families will continue to learn tricks to cut costs.
“Poverty itself is the big picture, ”he says. ”Marcus is a soccer player and I’m a cook. We may not be able to solve the bigger problem of poverty. But what we can do here is try to help as much as we can with the food aspect. “
Does Rashford think the government takes child poverty seriously enough? “Right now I’m getting the mood they give him so they can understand what we’re talking about – because they didn’t do it in the beginning [understand]“He tells HuffPost UK during the launch.
“I have a feeling they are definitely doing well, and at this moment, with Covid, a good attempt could be all that is needed to propel these kids in the right direction and at least help them survive consistently.” this Covid time. “
Rashford doesn’t think the government will reverse the steps it has taken to tackle child nutrition poverty if the lockdown wears off. He simply says, “I don’t think the public would let that happen again.”
He also points to other plans to help disadvantaged communities after the pandemic. “My plans for them future [have] a much wider gamut than what’s happening, ”he says. “The things we’re asking about right now have to be gotten before we even think about the rest of the plan.”
The 23-year-old has helped millions of people put food on the table, but somehow doesn’t feel pressured. “The reason I don’t do this is [because] All you can do as a human is do the best you can, ”he says.
“I try my best to get the things I think families need and the things they tell me they need. If all fails I’ll be disappointed, but that doesn’t mean I’ll stop because I’ve failed and it’s too much pressure to try again.
“None of that really exists in my head – it’s just about giving these kids the best chance for a future.”
Full-time starts on Sunday April 25th. Recipes can be picked up every Sunday morning in various forms in selected supermarkets.