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It wasn’t too long ago that we teamed up with campaigner and footballer Marcus Rashford to promote food redistribution charity FareShare. Now, he’s launched a campaign with chef Tom Kerridge, called Full Time, aiming to help all children build confidence in the kitchen with even the most basic equipment. Here, in his own words, Marcus talks to us about the campaign, cooking and his commitment to the cause.
We wanted to create something that worked in relation to the Healthy Start scheme (where those who are eligible can get free vouchers to spend on shopping essentials) but was engaging for all children and would equip them with a vital skill in adult life. The idea is to make the kitchen a comfortable space for everyone, and offer parents or carers valuable time with their children every week, regardless of how restricted their finances might be.
There are 52 pocket-friendly recipe cards curated by Tom, alongside nutritionists, which challenge everyone to work with limited equipment in the kitchen. Every Sunday, you can visit @FullTimeMeals on Instagram to find the accompanying tutorial video and see the efforts of myself and some very special guests. I’m an absolute beginner in the kitchen so it might be a couple of years before I get a call from Celebrity MasterChef!
The government committed to an uplift of the Healthy Start vouchers, and when I started work on the project there was only a 46% uptake of the scheme. Thanks to the work of food retailers like Co-op, that uptake has increased to 56%. Now, my ambition is to get it to 100% by the end of 2021, guaranteeing that those most in need are getting the help available to them. To achieve that uptake, we need to educate people about the scheme, and I’d love everyone – from customers to colleagues – to get involved. The more we talk about it, the more comfortable people in need will feel about applying for and using the vouchers!
I’ve always wanted to learn how to cook but never had the opportunity. As a child, we never had the means to be able to really learn to cook, and couldn’t risk it going wrong, so you certainly wouldn’t put me in charge! This project allowed me to embrace new skills and build my confidence – it definitely would have benefited me in my early years, but you’re never too old to learn something new. The important thing for me is demonstrating to children that you can make mistakes – it’s just about learning from them. You’ll see plenty of mistakes when you watch me cook!
My knowledge of food is minimal – as a footballer, meals have become about substance and nutrition. Tom is the expert, and he has worked alongside some of the industry’s best nutritionists to ensure our recipes are substantial and fit for purpose. My favourite dish to make so far has been the chicken stir fry, and I’m looking forward to ticking spaghetti bolognese off my list! All meals can be made using minimal equipment in the kitchen and are really wallet-friendly, too, meaning they’re available for all to have a bit of fun with and keep tummies full.
I wanted to personally thank Co-op for their ongoing support on my quest to make sure no child in the UK goes to bed hungry. Your help has been invaluable, and every member of staff has played a big role. I look forward to continuing this journey with you by my side.
Claim and Cook
Discover a new recipe every week @FullTimeMeals or download them directly from endchildfoodpoverty.org. You and your family can share your culinary creations with Marcus and Tom on social media @FullTimeMeals using #FullTimeMeals and #EndChildFoodPoverty. What’s more, if you – or anyone you know – might qualify for the Healthy Start scheme, check out healthystart.nhs.uk to get support for shopping essentials. You can redeem your vouchers at Co-op, and we’ll top them up by £1*.
Marcus Rashford MBE
Child Food Poverty Task Force founder and Manchester United and England Footballer