education

Marcus Rashford hits back at school refusing to feed children ‘in debt’


The Manchester United footballer successfully campaigned to secure free meals for vulnerable children during the pandemic (Pictures: Daily Post/ PA)

Marcus Rashford has criticised a Welsh school for refusing to feed children whose meal accounts are more than a penny in debt.

Headteacher Neil Foden warned parents that the school cook had been instructed not to serve lunch to any child ‘if their debt has not been cleared’.

He added that they would also be refused food if their account does not ‘have enough money’ to cover the meal.

The Manchester United star took to Twitter to express his disappointment at the decision made by the strategic head of Ysgol Dyffryn Nantlle in Penygroes, Gwynedd.

Metro.co.uk reported yesterday that a deadline of November 19 has been set for parents to get their children’s accounts up to date.

The 24-year-old quote-tweeted a letter sent to parents about the secondary school’s decision alongside the story.

He wrote: ‘Has the pandemic not taught us anything? Can we not be understanding? Come on now…’

‘For many children, lunch at school is the only meal they’ll get…’, he added later.

Marcus Rashford dedicated his MBE to his mother as he vowed there was more to come in his campaign to help disadvantaged children (Picture: PA)
A deadline of November 19 has been set for parents to get their children’s accounts up to date (Picture: Daily Post)
The letter has been shared on social media and attracted widespread criticism (Picture: Daily Post)

Despite opposition from the Government, Mr Rashford has successfully campaigned to secure free meals for vulnerable children throughout the pandemic, and recently received an MBE for his work.

The letter stated the Welsh school had run up debts totalling more than £1,800 at the end of last year and that was the reason behind the drastic measures.

It was accumulated by some 70 families, with nine parents owing more than £50 and three of them owing more than £100.

Jeremy Miles, Welsh Minister for Education, also commented on the move: ‘I am concerned by this; I don’t want any child to go hungry.

‘I expect schools and local authorities to work with families having difficulties with payments.

‘My officials have contacted the council; they have apologised and are in contact with the school.’

Mr Fodden confirmed earlier this week that parents whose accounts were in debt were texted on a weekly basis.

However, he said that in most cases there was no response and some debts even increased.

The email, which sparked fury amongst parents in Penygroes, has been shared on social media and attracted widespread criticism.

In a statement following the outrage, Mr Foden said pupils from the poorest families are eligible for free school meals.

He said: ‘Closer inspection revealed that this was because a handful of pupils had run up debts totalling more than £1,800.

‘Unfortunately, this means that I have had to take the following steps.

‘All debts over £10 will be transferred to the authority and parents will be invoiced by the council.

‘All debts of over £0.01 will receive a message from the school to clear debts and credit the system by Friday, November 19.’

The headteacher then threatened further measures, including refusing to serve children at the school.

He apologised for the approach, which has been branded as ‘absolutely disgraceful’ by parents.

Some pointed out ‘serious questions’ should be asked about why the deficit was left to grow so much in the first place, adding ‘a lack of administration should not be a reason for a children to be humiliated at lunchtime’.

In a statement following the outrage, Mr Foden confirmed pupils from the most financially disadvantaged families are eligible for free school meals and they are automatically credited with a daily allowance.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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