MORE than 1,500 people in Shropshire’s parliamentary constituencies have signed Marcus Rashford’s petition to end child food poverty, which will be put to a vote in Parliament on Wednesday.

The Manchester United and England footballer launched his campaign last week to extend free school meals across the holidays and to more children.

The Labour Party has forced a Commons vote on whether to extend the offer after the government refused to commit to Mr Rashford’s demands.

Writing on Twitter, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “Over a million children could go hungry over half term and Christmas holidays if free school meals aren’t extended.

“Conservative MPs must listen to campaigners, including @MarcusRashford and vote with Labour tomorrow to extend free schools meals.”

Mr Rashford, who was recently awarded an MBE for services to vulnerable children, said on Twitter that he had spoken to “a number of MPs who I know care”.

The star sportsman has urged politicians to back the vote, tweeting that if “your MP doesn’t deem providing vulnerable children with vital food resources a priority then you must ask yourself why”.

As of around 3pm on Tuesday, 1,638 people in Shropshire’s four constituencies had signed the petition urging the Government to provide more help to children at risk of going hungry.

It calls for free school meals to be extended to every child from a household on Universal Credit or an equivalent benefit, and to be provided throughout holidays as well as during term time.

It also says Healthy Start vouchers – given to eligible women who are pregnant or those with young children to buy basic foods – should be raised from £3.10 to £4.25 per week and made available to all those on Universal Credit or a similar benefit.

Across the UK, nearly 300,000 people have signed the petition since it went live on October 15.

Downing Street seemed to reject the scheme last week, with a Number 10 spokesman saying it was “not for schools to regularly provide food to pupils during the school holidays”.

But the Labour Party has tabled a motion calling on the Government to continue funding free school meals over the school breaks until Easter 2021, with a vote in the Commons scheduled on Wednesday, October 21.