Marcus Rashford Promotes Healthy Start

By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She is currently writing a book about textile artisans.

I’m not a Manchester United supporter. But I am a big fan of Marcus Rashford.

No introduction is needed of this Manchester United and English national team football player for UK readers. I’m not going to discuss his sporting prowess in this post – although from the video clips I’ve seen, that’s formidable.

This post will address just the latest small installment in his ongoing campaign to get food to hungry people throughout the UK. Rashford knows what it’s like to be hungry – and despite all the perks that go with being a top-class footballer, hasn’t forgotten his past. To those unfamiliar with the Rashford story or who want to see some content, please see my earlier post, Let Them Eat Cake: COVID and Food Donations.

I check out Rashford’s twitter feed occasionally, and here’s what I turned up this time.

Upon seeing that 50% of UK Healthy Start vouchers went unclaimed each week, Rashford acted. More on that in a moment.

First, some background on the UK’s Healthy Start program, which provides weekly vouchers to subsidize the purchase of fresh food by pregnant women and those who have children under the age of four. From the NHS website:

What is Healthy Start?

If you’re pregnant or have children under the age of 4 you can get free vouchers or payments every 4 weeks to spend on:

  • cow’s mil
  • fresh, frozen or tinned fruit and vegetable
  • infant formula milk
  • fresh, dried, and tinned pulses

I must mention that making this benefit available largely via vouchers more or less guarantees limited uptake – a feature, rather than a bug, no doubt, to neoliberal proponents of this and similar voucher  schemes. The amount on offer is also small, ranging from about three pounds if you’re pregnant, to just over six pounds if you have a child under the age of one; I think you can claim multiple benefits if you qualify under more than one category.

Rashford didn’t succumb to such cynicism. Instead, he used the pulpit of his well-followed twitter feed to ask some of the leading UK food retailers about their policies on Healthy Start.

Jerri-Lynn here. Here are some  responses. UK readers will recognise that these are some of the leading food retailers in Britain:

Jerri-Lynn here. Look, I realize that an additional three quid a week – for those who qualify – is not enough to feed many of the UK’s hungry. But for some, it must surely help.

Kudos to Rashford for spotlighting this issue – and making it clear to UK food retailers that someone other than the beneficiaries is paying attention to their performance. While I wait for the great political reset that may or may not happen during my lifetime, I think that if more of the 1% took on some responsibility for feeding the hungry, maybe there wouldn’t be quite so many hungry people.

See what Rashford ha helped achieve during the past year.  And note that Rashford is 23 years old, and this is not his day job:

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  1. PlutoniumKun

    Even as a Liverpool fan, I have to admire Rashford. Needless to say, the UK right wing papers are trying to dig any kind of dirt on him they can.

  2. KFritz

    To put a fine point on it, MR is a UK International only every four years at the Olympics. For all other international events he plays for England.

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