Marcus Rashford, Manchester United player, scored a new goal for the British Government on Wednesday in its fight against child poverty. I just had a good conversation with the prime minister. He has assured me that he is committed to correcting the food box issue and that they are already reviewing the supply chain, ”he tweeted. The international battering ram thus confirmed the goal that had just hit the Downing Street gate in a relentless public campaign to guarantee nutritious food for all schoolchildren in England.
It is the umpteenth time that the conservative president, Boris Johnson, surrenders to the pressure of the 23-year-old footballer. His activism multiplied with the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and has already forced several rectifications in the strategy of the Conservative Executive to try to ensure that no child misses a plate of food when schools close, either during the holidays or as a result of the home confinement.
The controversy jumped this time with the publication on social networks of a photograph of the food supply that a boy received this week. The image shows, in a perfectly aligned composition, two withered bananas, two carrots, a sliced bread, cheese wrapped in cellophane, a can of typical beans in tomato sauce, a package of pasta, two potatoes, a tomato of salad and several packages of sweets. The shipment was for a week, although the supplying company specified that it should last a school week, that is, five days.
Johnson described the image as “shameful” in the Westminster Parliament and “unacceptable” in his communication with the footballer. “I agree with you,” he replied on Twitter, “that these food packages do not meet the standards we have set.” Later, the prime minister ignored the complaint of the Labor leader, Keir Starmer, who rescued from the website of the Ministry of Education an indicative list of the content of a school menu, almost exactly that of the “shameful” image. The government guide includes several extras: a can of corn, two of meat, a fresh cucumber, and a bottle of milk.
Chartwells, a company of the Compass group that won the contract for menus for low-income school children, apologized for the incident and promised to reimburse the schools for the cost. For the time being, a private chain of charter schools canceled their services and Education Minister Chris Williamson prompted institutions to “identify and shame” other providers that did not live up to expectations. “We will not tolerate this type of behavior and we will support any school that needs to take action,” said the minister. Williamson is a candidate to lose his portfolio in the next government reshuffle due to the chain of mistakes his ministry has made during the pandemic.
Food shipments resumed following the sudden closure of schools on January 4. In some English regions they opened that first Monday after the Christmas holidays, until Johnson announced the general lockdown later that night. With the canteens closed, it was necessary to distribute food packages or vouchers for 10.50 pounds a week (about 12 euros) between the estimated 1.4 and 1.7 million children between 4 and 7 years old who are entitled to the school feeding subsidy . The continuity of the service is one of the triumphs achieved by the Manchester United striker and the followers of his charitable projects. The Government raised the individual value of the program to 15 pounds on Wednesday.
Rashford grew up in Wythenshawe, the hub of South Manchester neighborhoods and social housing. He signed his most recent contract with United for a base salary estimated at £ 200,000 per week. Last fall, the Government recognized his humanitarian projects and awarded him the MBE medal of the Order of the British Empire. “My mother worked full time, she earned the minimum wage to ensure that we could have dinner every night. But it was not enough. The system is not designed for families like mine to succeed, no matter how hard my mother worked, “he denounced in a letter addressed to the political class.
South African and Brazilian variants now disturb scientists
The coronavirus mutation that now worries medical experts the most is called E484K, and it worries them more than the UK variant, which has already reached 50 countries. This new version of the virus, detected in South Africa and Brazil, could reduce the effectiveness of vaccines, but, at the moment, there is no certainty that E484K is resistant to the drugs that have begun to be inoculated in many countries. This mutation “is the most worrisome of all” with respect to its impact on the immune response, “says Ravi Gupta, a microbiologist at the University of Cambridge. These variants have in common the N501Y mutation, which would explain their greater transmissibility.