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The prominent Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford has pleaded with the UK government to protect “vulnerable children” across the UK. Rashford has been working tirelessly to provide free meals to children since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. With poverty on the rise around the world, Rashford is aware of how this is affecting UK children, especially during school holidays when they are not receiving their free school meals. Thus, Rashford is working to correct this with his ultimate goal being to end child poverty in the UK.

In the UK, children from low-income families receive free school meals. However, in the past, children have not received these meals during breaks or holidays when school is not in session. Rashford has underlined this discrepancy and has been working to change it. At the start of the first UK lockdown in March 2020, he partnered with a local food charity, FoodShare, to provide free meals to children in Manchester. Rashford’s initial goal was to feed 400,000 children in the Greater Manchester area but this soon increased and included children nationwide, when he received more than £20 million in donations.

As the summer approached in June 2020, Rashford wrote a letter to the UK government pleading with them saying, “I encourage you to hear the children’s pleas and find your humanity. Please reconsider your decision to cancel the food voucher scheme over the summer holidays.” The UK government had not planned to provide meals to children over the summer break; however the day after Rashford’s published letter, the government announced they would extend free meals to children over the summer holidays.

Now, Rashford is pushing for the government to continue providing meals during the winter holidays. He started a petition on the UK Parliament Petitions Website demanding an expansion of the free school meals program, a provision of meals and activities during school holidays, and an increase in the value of meal vouchers. The petition received 100,000 signatures within 10 hours, making it eligible for a parliamentary debate. In one day, it continued to gain 200,000 signatures and 300,000 in less than a week. Parliament soon took the subject to a vote with 322 to 261 MPs voting against extending the free school meals over the winter holidays. Marcus Rashford subsequently criticised those who voted against the children’s meals saying they lacked humanity. Rashford has vowed to continue his fight against child poverty, and will also continue to provide meals for children across the UK with the support of many people and businesses. So far, he has helped over 4 million children across the country.

Difficult words

Plead (v): To beg or strongly ask for.

Vulnerable (adj): Being easily hurt.

Poverty (n): The state of being extremely poor.

Underline (v): To emphasise or draw a line under writing.

Discrepancy (n): An illogical or lack of compatibility.

Voucher (n): A piece of paper that authorises a discount.

Scheme (n): A large systematic plan affecting many people.

Petition (n): A list of signatures from people wanting the same change.

Provision (n): The action of providing or supplying something.

Activities

For listening practise, listen to the recorded article here:

American English:

Match the Synonym!

1. PleadA. Illogical
2. VulnerableB. At risk.
3. PovertyC. Signatures
4. UnderlineD. Emphasise
5. DiscrepancyE. Plan
6. VoucherF. Supplying
7. SchemeG. Beg
8. PetitionH. Coupon
9. ProvisionI. Poor

True or False?

1.  Marcus Rashford is a prominent US baseball player. T / F

2. Rashford has been working tirelessly to provide meals for the elderly. T / F

3. Poverty is on the rise all around the world. T / F

4. Rashford’s ultimate goal is to end poverty in every country. T / F

5.  Every child receives free school meals in the UK. T / F

6. Rashford partnered with a Manchester charity called FoodShare. T / F

7. Rashford has been providing meals to children for the last five years. T / F

8.  Rashford’s efforts started by feeding London children first. T / F

9. The letter Rashford wrote to the government was very successful. T / F

10. The UK government voted to not provide free meals to children during the winter holidays. T / F

Unscramble the sentence!

1. free / been / to / provide / tirelessly / meals / Rashford / has / working

2. to / Rashford / correct / Thus, / this / working / is

3. initial / Rashford’s / feed / goal / children / to / 400,000 / was

4. reconsider / food / the / your / voucher scheme / Please / decision / to / cancel

5. has / against / his / poverty / continue / Rashford / vowed / child / to / fight

Listening and Vocabulary

Listen to the article and fill in the words OR practice vocabulary and fill in the words.

American English:

UltimateProminentExpansion
DebateSessionNationwide
ReconsiderLackedAnnounced

The (1)________________ Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford has pleaded with the UK government to protect “vulnerable children” across the UK. Rashford has been working tirelessly to provide free meals to children since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. With poverty on the rise around the world, Rashford is aware of how this is affecting UK children, especially during school holidays when they are not receiving their free school meals. Thus, Rashford is working to correct this with his (2)____________ goal being to end child poverty in the UK.

In the UK, children from low-income families receive free school meals. However, in the past, children have not received these meals during breaks or holidays when school is not in (3)____________. Rashford has underlined this discrepancy and has been working to change it. At the start of the first UK lockdown in March 2020, he partnered with a local food charity, FoodShare, to provide free meals to children in Manchester. Rashford’s initial goal was to feed 400,000 children in the Greater Manchester area but this soon increased and included children (4)________________, when he received more than £20 million in donations.

As the summer approached in June 2020, Rashford wrote a letter to the UK government pleading with them saying, “I encourage you to hear the children’s pleas and find your humanity. Please (5)______________ your decision to cancel the food voucher scheme over the summer holidays.” The UK government had not planned to provide meals to children over the summer break; however the day after Rashford’s published letter, the government (6)_________________ they would extend free meals to children over the summer holidays.

Now, Rashford is pushing for the government to continue providing meals during the winter holidays. He started a petition on the UK Parliament Petitions Website demanding an (7)_____________ of the free school meals program, a provision of meals and activities during school holidays, and an increase in the value of meal vouchers. The petition received 100,000 signatures within 10 hours, making it eligible for a parliamentary (8)__________. In one day, it continued to gain 200,000 signatures and 300,000 in less than a week. Parliament soon took the subject to a vote with 322 to 261 MPs voting against extending the free school meals over the winter holidays. Marcus Rashford subsequently criticised those who voted against the children’s meals saying they (9)___________ humanity. Rashford has vowed to continue his fight against child poverty, and will also continue to provide meals for children across the UK with the support of many people and businesses. So far, he has helped over 4 million children across the country.

Conversation Questions

Take turns speaking with a partner or try to answer on your own:

1. Did you find this article interesting? Why or why not?
2. Did you learn anything new from this article? If so, what?
3. What do you think of this story?
4. Should the British government give free meals to poor children during the holidays?
5. Is it right for people to be angry at the government for not giving the meals?
6. Do poor children in your country get free school meals?
7. Is there help in your country for children during the school holidays?
8. Is it important for celebrities to use their platforms to help people?
9. Are there any famous people in your country who are known for helping people?
10. Is it the government’s job to help people with their children?
11. Are children more vulnerable in your country because of COVID-19?
12. Are people in your country getting help from the government because of COVID-19?
13. What are school meals like in your country?
14. Is it more common to bring lunch from home or to eat a school meal in your country?
15. Are school meals healthy in your country?
16. Have school meals in your country changed since you were a kid?
17. Do low-income people get help with buying food in your country?
18. In what other ways do you think children need help?
19. Is it expensive to raise a child in your country?
20. Are there many children’s charities in your country?