Manchester United star Marcus Rashford has hit out at the UK Government after a vote to extend free school meals over the holidays until Easter 2021 was defeated on Wednesday.
In June, Rashford successfully lobbied the government to extend its policy of providing free meals for underprivileged children into the summer months through the school holidays.
Rashford's work in helping to tackle child hunger led to the England international being awarded an MBE in the Queen's birthday honours earlier this month, but Wednesday saw his cause dealt a defeat in the Commons as the Labour vote to extend free school meals was defeated 322 to 261.
After the vote, Rashford took to Twitter to register his disappointment at the outcome.
"Put aside all the noise, the digs, the party politics and let's focus on the reality," Rashford wrote. "A significant number of children are going to bed tonight not only hungry but feeling like they do not matter because of comments that have been made today.
"We must stop stigmatising, judging and pointing fingers. Our views are being clouded by political affiliation. This is not politics, this is humanity.
"We talk about the devastating impact of Covid-19 but, if projections are anything to go by, child food poverty has the potential to become the greatest pandemic the country has ever faced.
"We must start working together and unite to protect our most vulnerable children. No more sticking plasters.
"Let's face this head on. Let's level up once and for all. The asks of the Child Food Poverty Taskforce remain the same. We are endorsing Government-commissioned policy recommendations that were built from extensive research and data analysis.
"These policies are vital to stabilising millions of households across the UK and need to be implemented without delay. Child hunger should never be faced with looming deadlines.
"We need a long-term sustainable framework, and thanks to the 300,000+ signatures, we will now be offered the opportunity to discuss this."
The striker has invited Downing Street to meet with his taskforce to discuss next steps.
"Following private and public approaches, I once again invite Number 10 to sit around the table with the taskforce so that, together, we can collaborate on how best to combat child food poverty in the UK," he added. "We are here to help, but we require guidance and insight from those in Number 10.
"I don't have the education of a politician, many on Twitter have made that clear today, but I have a social education having lived through this and having spent time with the families affected.
"These children matter. These children are the future of this country. They are not just another statistic, and for as long as they don't have a voice, they will have mine. You have my word on that."