Marcus Rashford has vowed to find “long-term answers” to child food poverty in the UK, after receiving the Professional Footballers’ Association merit award for combating the problem.
Manchester United striker Rashford forced the UK government into a U-turn over its free school meals policy during lockdown, ensuring children in need would receive meals across the summer.
The England forward has since formed a child food poverty task force, linking up with some of the UK’s biggest supermarkets and food brands.
And on receiving the PFA’s special award, handed out for services to football, the 22-year-old insisted he is only just getting started on his off-field quest.
“What we’ve done so far, it’s only a short-term answer,” said Rashford.
“Me and my team behind me are just trying to find plans on how we can help these children for the rest of their childhood really; to find long-term answers to the problem.
“At the moment we don’t have the answers but we’ll do our best to try to find them, and to progress the situation that they are in at the moment the best we can.
“Obviously I was injured during lockdown, and at the beginning I was working towards getting back with the team, but then there were conversations saying there might not be games until September, and when I was sat at home I just needed something to work towards and a goal to achieve.
“And that was just something I spoke about with my brothers over the phone and rest of my family, and we just tried to find the best way to help people.
“It’s been a long journey, but I think the first phase was probably the hardest bit, which was learning and self-teaching who were the right people to get in contact with to help these children especially.
“We had the ideas but we didn’t know where to pitch them, or who to pitch them to, so that was probably the most difficult phase of everything really. That was right at the beginning of lockdown.
“This is obviously a huge honour, and for me I just hope it encourages and promotes other players to do things to help as much as they can. I’m very happy, and I’ll definitely continue to do my best to help people.”
Rashford hit 22 goals in all competitions for a Manchester United side that finished third in the Premier League and continues to develop under manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Excited by the Red Devils’ progress, Rashford admitting hoping for better luck on the injury front in the new campaign.
“It was a year that’s been quite difficult for me with injuries, niggles and things I’ve had to deal with as and when the games come up,” said Rashford.
“It’s been a tough season but also a season where I’ve matured a lot, it’s been a big year of learning for me.
“And I’ve always said as long as I’m learning and improving then I’m happy.
“Hopefully next year we can continue to do that but we need to add that little bit of getting over the line and winning trophies.
“Three semi-finals with United and we’ve not quite got over the line and it’s something we definitely need to learn from.
“It’s a young group so I’m sure we’ll learn and improve, and hopefully in the new season we can get some trophies.
“Trophies are what drive this club and are important to all the players. It’s something we need to have in the future, and I think the players understand that.”