MANCHESTER United striker Marcus Rashford has given a shout-out to two St Helens businesses who have made pledges to offer free meals for families struggling during half-term.

The footballer tweeted support for cafe Toast 2 Roast, based in Moss Bank and Riddling Jack, in Newton-le-Willows.


Businesses across the borough have stated support for struggling families over the holidays following the defeat of the motion calling for an extension of free school meals until next Easter.

The motion was defeated by 261 votes to 322 in the House of Commons and has been the subject of an intense row.

More than 1,000 people in St Helens' parliamentary constituencies had signed Marcus Rashford’s petition to end child food poverty ahead of the parliamentary vote.

READ > St Helens is Open: 'Now is the time to back local businesses'

The Manchester United and England footballer launched the campaign last week to extend free school meals across the holidays and to more children.

The Labour Party forced a Commons vote on whether to extend the offer.

The striker has urged politicians to back the vote, tweeting that if “your MP doesn’t deem providing vulnerable children with vital food resources a priority then you must ask yourself why”.

As of around 3pm on Tuesday, 1,360 people in St Helens’s two constituencies had signed the petition urging the Government to provide more help to children at risk of going hungry.

It calls for free school meals to be extended to every child from a household on Universal Credit or an equivalent benefit, and to be provided throughout holidays as well as during term time.

It also says Healthy Start vouchers – given to eligible women who are pregnant or those with young children to buy basic foods – should be raised from £3.10 to £4.25 per week and made available to all those on Universal Credit or a similar benefit.