England footballer Marcus Rashford has teamed up with TV chef Tom Kerridge to help Brits make the most of Healthy Start vouchers in his latest plan to fight child food poverty.
The pair will offer 52 simple recipes, ranging from fish finger sandwiches to chicken satay stir fry, for families to cook using food bought with the vouchers. The new scheme, called Full Time: Get cooking with Marcus & Tom, will start on Sunday April 25.
“This project is for every child and I really hope parents and carers will benefit from having a bit of valuable time together in the kitchen when family activity is heavily restricted by financial restraints,” Rashford said in a statement.
Healthy Start vouchers were given a boost in England and Wales at the start of April – following lobbying from Rashford – and now work out at £4.25 per child under the age of four per week, up from £3.25.
We needed to come up with a creative project that really engaged children most in need
The England and Manchester United striker wants to boost take up to ensure all eligible families receive the vouchers and will share recipes on social media and in supermarkets to banish the stigma of food poverty and help hungry families.
“Following Government investment into Healthy Start it was important to me that we demonstrated the power in collaboration,” he said.
“We needed to come up with a creative project that really engaged children most in need, preparing them for what adult life has to offer, whilst also attracting all children to break down stigma around usage of the vouchers.”
Rashford has championed the issue of child food poverty throughout the pandemic and his latest venture brings his Child Food Poverty Taskforce together with Kerridge, who is part of Henry Dimbleby’s National Food Strategy independent review.
Full Time is aiming to help families with cooking skills as well as recipes. Rashford and Kerridge have promised each recipe will be easy to cook with limited equipment and include store cupboard goods with a longer shelf life.
The pair have been filming short videos for the campaign in recent weeks and the chef revealed that families are not the only ones building their cooking skills through the scheme – Rashford is too.
The footballer marked out spaghetti bolognese as his favourite meal as part of the series – and the dish will feature in cook-along videos to be posted on the Full Time Instagram page every Sunday to help families.
“Marcus has always been one to encourage life skills and cooking is a valuable skill that everyone can embrace and that will see you through the whole of your life,” said Kerridge.
“If you can engage with food from the start, you can grow, develop and build your own collection of recipes, and enjoy cooking together.
“This is peeling carrots, peeling potatoes, dicing onions – this isn’t making tagines or braising beef briskets. This is right at the beginning.”
When my mum was at home I’d always watch her cooking and have a nosey and a laugh
With 4.3 million children living in poverty in the UK according to Department of Work and Pensions figures – and the growing financial fallout of Covid-19 – Kerridge and Rashford are aiming to reach millions of families across the country with the Full Time campaign.
The pair are both bringing personal experience into the campaign too. While Rashford has made his anecdotes of growing up in food poverty the heart of his campaign, he said getting back into the kitchen brought back memories of watching his mother Melanie Rashford cook.
“Even though I’m not the best cook, I’ve enjoyed getting in the kitchen and doing my best,” he said.
“When my mum was at home I’d always watch her cooking and have a nosey and a laugh. Half an hour of a bit of fun before I went back to sleep and she went back to work. From where I look at it, why not create something similar to that?”
Kerridge also recalled the importance of having go-to recipes to hand as a teenager and said it inspired the inclusion of fish finger sandwiches in the campaign.
He said: “I was 14 years old, going through the door and my mum was at a second job and I was cooking my tea for my brother. I didn’t know how to cook at 14 but I need to have the confidence to put the oven or grill on and into the oven and know when they’re cooked and create something. There’s nothing wrong with a fish finger sandwich.”
Full Time is the second scheme Rashford has launched this week. The Manchester United star also started a book club to get disadvantaged children reading, working with publisher Macmillan Children’s and Magic Breakfast to hand out 50,000 to youngsters in 850 primary and secondary schools across England and Scotland.