Marcus Rashford has had quite a banner year off the pitch in 2020. The 23-year old Man Utd forward was made an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for his work to combat food poverty, and he was included in the annual Football Black List in light of those efforts as well. Now the BBC will present him with an Expert Panel Special Award, which was created expressly for Rashford as part of their Sports Personality of the Year awards.
This accolade honors how he rallied support to have the British government extend its free school meal program or 1.3 million children into the summer months, which was particularly noteworthy during the coronavirus pandemic. He further lobbied for a policy change that raised over £400 million in support of children in poverty and their families.
Of Kittitian parentage, Marcus grew up as one of five children with a single mother, and his own childhood experiences were a source of inspiration for his campaign. In the upcoming documentary Marcus Rashford: Feeding Britain’s Children, he revealed, “There were times when there wasn’t any food, so you’d just go to sleep. The people that were closest to me knew about the situation me and my family were going through, but my team-mates and coaches didn’t.”
So when the UK’s Department of Education scheduled to suspend its free meal voucher program for the summer, as is standard procedure, Rashford implored Members of Parliament to reconsider. “The system was not built for families like mine to succeed, regardless of how hard my mum worked,” he wrote in his letter to them, noting that child food poverty is “not about politics” but about “humanity.”
A call from Prime Minister Boris Johnson is captured in the documentary, and the lighthearted exchange reflects just how far Rashford’s work reached.
In related news, the fashion house Burberry also teamed up with him to promote awareness of child food poverty and support him in that cause. In November, the company said it would provide donations to FareShare, which will fund hundreds of thousands of meals to be distributed across 11,000 charities and community groups in the U.K. They have also pledged to work with London Youth, providing grants to some of London’s most deprived communities and youth centers. “Burberry has led with action rather than words, and the impact of this move will be felt for generations to come. I’m thrilled with the outcome and proud to call Burberry my partner,” Rashford said. Their latest collaboration comes with a film that takes the viewer through a journey of modernized British scenery.