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Labour has called for free school meals to be given to needy children in February half-term.

Footballer Marcus Rashford has backed demands for poorer kids to receive food during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Government has refused to extend the benefit over the February break, saying millions of families and children can instead rely on Covid Winter Support Grant funding.

But Government guidance states: “The Covid Winter Grant Scheme is not intended to replicate or replace free school meals and authorities should avoid duplicating provision where possible.”

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner, who relied on free school meals as a child, said: “Almost a year into this pandemic children should not be in this situation yet again, worried about going hungry during the school holidays.

“The Prime Minister condemned the disgraceful food parcels that hungry children have been given, yet now he is planning to leave them without free school meals.

“The Government voted against free school meals in October, had to be shamed into extending support over the Christmas holidays and now they are letting down our children again.

“We should not even be having this discussion.

“Instead of dragging their feet and leaving millions of families in the lurch again the Government must make sure that no child goes hungry this half term.”

Manchester United striker Marcus, 23, has twice forced No10 into humiliating U-turns during the Covid-19 crisis over providing free school meals for poorer kids outside of term time.