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Several NFRN members have pledged their support for Marcus Rashford’s free school meal campaign by providing free school meals, for those in need, throughout the half-term.

Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford became an inspiration to many independent retailers following his school meals campaign, which aims to tackle child poverty amid the government’s decision to not extend its school meals voucher scheme.

Raaj Chandarana, of Tara’s Londis in High Wycombe, has pledged to give a free lunch, including a sandwich, orange juice, a snack and a piece of fruit, to any child accompanied by an adult between 11am – 1pm.

Reaching out to those in need via a video post on Twitter, Raaj aims to “end the stigma surrounding needing help”.

Maintaining that “no child will go hungry” and that there’s “no purchase required, no judgement, no strings”, Raaj’s Tweet has gained the attention of Marcus Rashford himself, who retweeted Raaj’s post to his 3.7 million Twitter followers, adding “Raaj, you’re incredible thank you”.

Raaj said: “I was partially inspired by Marcus to do the free meals, but also felt like it was my duty to do so.

“Times are currently very tough – people are losing jobs and don’t have the means to cater for themselves.

“The support that I’ve received is overwhelming. The video has received over 80,000 views on Twitter, which is very nice and humbling.

“Although it was very nice to be retweeted by Marcus, I’m not too bothered about attention on social media – I just want to inspire others to help out.”

Avtar Sidhu, of St John’s Budgens in Kenilworth, has also pledged to support local families in need.

School children – who are accompanied by an adult – can claim free food at his store.

He said: “I have credit behind the checkout and any families in need can use it to get their shopping.

“I put £400 on myself and I am welcoming anyone, who can afford to, to make a donation for those in need.

“Marcus Rashford’s campaign became a beacon for many and I was the first person in my area to donate free meals.

“I’ve had an overwhelming response from my customers and local community.”

Although the initial campaign was intended to feed families during half-term, Avtar is extending it for the foreseeable.

He explained: “Because of everything that’s happening at the moment, poverty is going to be an ongoing issue.

“Therefore, when this one ends, I am going to start a new scheme called give a little gift, which will follow the same principle.”

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