Schoolgirl, 17, was left with ‘virtually no food’ during lockdown

A 17-year-old girl who was left with ‘virtually no food’ during lockdown has revealed her family will be left ‘in a dark place’ if free school meal vouchers are not extended throughout holiday periods. 

Last week, a Labour motion to extend the scheme providing free school meals for children during half term was rejected by MPs by 322 votes to 261 – a majority of 61. 

It was the latest setback in Manchester United star Marcus Rashford’s plea for the Government to fund meals for the most needy children during Covid-19 lockdowns. 

Anisah Rahman, from west Hampstead, north London, has received free school meals throughout her entire education and is a youth leader with Bite Back 2030, a group of teen activists who campaign for a healthier food system. 

Appearing on This Morning today, she told how before the voucher scheme was implemented at the end of March, she and her family were left in a ‘dark situation’ and at one point had ‘no food at all’. 

A 17-year-old girl who was left with ‘virtually no food’ during lockdown has hailed Marcus Rashford, pictured in 2019, the ‘voice representing’ young people facing food poverty

Anisah Rahman, from west Hampstead, north London, appeared on This Morning today. She has received free school meals throughout her entire education and is a youth leader with Bite Back 2030

Anisah Rahman, from west Hampstead, north London, appeared on This Morning today. She has received free school meals throughout her entire education and is a youth leader with Bite Back 2030

‘We need the school vouchers as unfortunately my parents don’t work due to medical conditions,’ she said. ‘And we really rely on that as a safety net, it allows me to have a decent meal everyday. 

‘With the pandemic, what has happened is the economic aftermath of the pandemic has impacted us significantly. I remember at one point we had no food at all and when the vouchers came in it was like this life-saver.

‘Now we’re going back again, where we had to resort to much lower quality food, it’s really bad. In my family there are a lot of complex health conditions, my sister is diabetic, so switching to cheaper brands will affect her, so it’s quite a dark situation.’

Following the decision to rejected further free school meals, several business have committed to helping feed school pupils throughout the holidays. 

Following the decision to rejected further free school meals, several business have committed to helping feed school pupils throughout the holidays. Pictured, The Watering Can Restaurant and Cafe in Liverpool's Greenbank Park

Following the decision to rejected further free school meals, several business have committed to helping feed school pupils throughout the holidays. Pictured, The Watering Can Restaurant and Cafe in Liverpool’s Greenbank Park

The Watering Can Restaurant and Cafe provided children with sandwiches, fruit, a chocolate bar crisps and a carton of juice

The Watering Can Restaurant and Cafe provided children with sandwiches, fruit, a chocolate bar crisps and a carton of juice  

Last week, a Labour motion to extend the scheme providing free school meals for children during the Easter holidays was rejected by MPs with 322 votes to 261. Pictured, free half-term meal packs for children in Liverpool

Last week, a Labour motion to extend the scheme providing free school meals for children during the Easter holidays was rejected by MPs with 322 votes to 261. Pictured, free half-term meal packs for children in Liverpool 

The Watering Can Restaurant and Cafe in Liverpool’s Greenbank Park is currently preparing free half-term meal packs for children, while Anisah was joined on the show by the owner of Lily’s cafe in Rotherham, who is also offering meals to children during the Easter Half Term. 

Owner Emma Stocks said: ‘We are providing free lunches for school children, even if they don’t qualify for free meals. 

‘We have 54 orders already and we’re hoping for a hell of a lot more when people realise there is no judgment.’ 

She added: ‘Some days we’re not doing anything so why not help we’ve always got stock in so why waste it lets use it.’ 

Footballer Marcus, 22, successfully lobbied ministers to continue free school meals throughout the summer holidays earlier this year. Pictured, a staff member at The Watering Can packing a free lunch

Footballer Marcus, 22, successfully lobbied ministers to continue free school meals throughout the summer holidays earlier this year. Pictured, a staff member at The Watering Can packing a free lunch 

The teen told on the show how before the voucher scheme was extended back in June, she and her family were left in a 'dark situation' and at one point had 'no food at all.'

The teen told on the show how before the voucher scheme was extended back in June, she and her family were left in a ‘dark situation’ and at one point had ‘no food at all.’

Footballer Marcus, 22, successfully lobbied ministers to continue free school meals throughout the summer holidays earlier this year, and Anisah heaped on praise for the activist, who is  ‘making sure young people are entitled to the food they deserve’. 

Speaking of the government U-turn, she said: ‘I was so happy, making sure we did have meals during lockdown. That was a point when I virtually had no food.

‘Having someone so relatable who has experienced the issue first hand, making sure young people are entitled to the food they deserve. He is the voice that represents us. 

‘I was truly disappointed on Wednesday when we heard how important free school meals are, all the emotional pleas.

Viewers were quick to praise Anisah, hailing her an 'an eloquent, informed young lady' and saying they're thankful for people like Marcus and Anisah for 'speaking up' about food poverty

Viewers were quick to praise Anisah, hailing her an ‘an eloquent, informed young lady’ and saying they’re thankful for people like Marcus and Anisah for ‘speaking up’ about food poverty

Viewers were quick to praise Anisah, hailing her an ‘an eloquent, informed young lady’ and saying they’re thankful for people like Marcus and Anisah for ‘speaking up’ about food poverty. 

One wrote: ‘What a well spoken, articulate young lady talking about free meals through school holidays. She definitely has my support.’ 

Another said: Thankful for people like Anisah and Marcus Rashford for speaking up about these issues especially seeing all the businesses in the country playing their part to give children and families free school meals. It’s just sad how the Government can’t do the same.’ 

A third wrote: ‘Anisah Rahman on #ThisMorning wow!! What an eloquent, informed young lady.’ 

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