Marcus Rashford has launched an online petition calling on the United Kingdom government to provide free school meals for more children.

The 22-year-old also partnered with FareShare and helped to raise £20 million ($25m) to help provide free meals to those in need amid the coronavirus pandemic, while he has since worked with supermarkets and food brands to create a taskforce with the aim of tackling child food poverty.

Rashford’s work in helping to tackle child hunger led to the England international being awarded an MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours, after which he vowed to continue his fight.

Speaking about the latest initiative, Rashford,who received free meals as a child, said: “For too long this conversation has been delayed. Child food poverty in the UK is not a result of Covid-19.

“In 2020, no child should be going to bed hungry, nor should they be sat in classrooms concerned about how their younger siblings are going to eat that day, or how they are going to access food come the holidays. Let’s wrap arms around each other and stand together to say this is unacceptable, that we are united in protecting our children.”

The petition calls for three recommendations to be implemented, including expanding free school meals to all under-16s where a parent or guardian is in receipt of Universal Credit or equivalent benefit.

It also says meals and activities should be providing during all holidays, and Healthy Start vouchers should be increased to the value of £4.25 ($5.50) per week.

The Welsh government announced on Thursday that it will provide free school meals during all holidays up to and including Easter 2021. It said the decision will come at a cost of £11 million ($14m).

Rashford has said that it is “mind-blowing” to see the amount of suffering in the UK, which spurs him on to continue his fight.

“Every single day it shocks me,” Rashford said. “It’s not until people see the numbers and I’ve had the chance to visit some of the families I’ve managed to help and hear how it’s affected them and changed their lives.

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