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Manchester striker breaks down conservative government resistance to feeding the hungry with Twitter onslaught.
On October 26th, Reuters and the Guardian reported British Prime Minister Boris Johnson surrendered to the superior endurance and determination of Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford and agreed to support free school meals.
For a man only 22 years old, Marcus has an impressive record of activism around hunger:
* In October 2019, Rashford partnered with Selfridges, a chain of high-end department stores, to launch the “In the Box” campaign to provide essential items for the homeless during the holidays.
* In March 2020, Rashford partnered with charitable organization Fareshare to deliver meals to kids in the Greater Manchester area who no longer received free school meals during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.
* On 15 June, Rashford wrote an open letter to the UK government calling on them to end UK child poverty and causing the government to announce the extension of free school meals for children during the summer holidays.
This past summer, the Holiday Activity and Food (HAF) program was piloted with the goal of ensuring children in the UK are provided with at least one free meal a day outside school time.
When Conservative Party lawmakers voted down a plan to extend the HAF program and provide meals for kids over Christmas, Marcus Rashford launched a one-man information campaign to pressure Johnson to extend the HAF program and provide meals for 1.3 million children in the UK.
Rashford, who has 3.7 million Twitter followers, used the platform using the hashtag #ENDCHILDFOODPOVERTY to call on local businesses to pledge free lunches for kids over the holidays.
When Rashford received hundreds of responses, he starting retweeting all the local businesses that volunteered to provide free lunches for kids.
Tweet showing the geotagged locations of businesses that pledged to provide food for hungry kids.
The fact that UK businesses are ready to fill the gap where the government won’t take action and feed hungry children became an embarrassment for Johnson, but Rashford amplified his message with the impressive athleticism brought to tweeting.
According to a recent blog article by Import.io, Rashford tweeted in “sprints”:
* Rashford tweeted 218 times in less than 24 hours.Rashford apparently took a 7-hour break for sleep, so deducting that time he averaged 14 tweets per hour — nearly 1 tweet every 4 minutes.Rashford peaked toward the end of his initial 24-hour session reaching speeds of 1 tweet every 1.5 minutes.
* Marcus used his popularity to successfully show he could crowdsource the effort if needed — and showed that public sentiment was in support of the program.
* On Monday, Johnson’s government relented and supported the extension of the free meals program for children through the holidays. A national version of the scheme is estimated to cost 200 million pounds ($260 million) a year.
Rashford has confirmed in interviews that seeing his own mother struggle to feed her kids is part of the inspiration for his ongoing activism.
According to the Child Poverty Action Group, more than four million children, (nearly 30%) live in poverty and the trend seems to be getting worse.
Rashford urged followers to donate to FareShare this week and has a link to the organization’s website in his Twitter bio. FareShare said Rashford’s efforts have helped raise donations to provide over 4.2 million meals for children and families.
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