'Positive force': Barack Obama praises Marcus Rashford after school meal campaigning

28 May 2021, 06:49

Mr Obama praised Marcus Rashford
Mr Obama praised Marcus Rashford. Picture: Handout/Penguin Random House/PA Media

By Will Taylor

Former US President Barack Obama has praised Marcus Rashford in the wake of his school meals campaigning.

The Manchester United and England footballer took on the UK Government over child food poverty during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Zoom conversation, organised by Penguin Books, was "surreal", Rashford said, having carried it out from his Manchester kitchen.

Mr Obama said: "A lot of the young people I meet - including Marcus - they're ahead of where I was when I was 23.

"They're already making changes and being positive forces in their communities."

Rashford's campaigning led to the Government putting £520 million into a scheme that provided 130 million meals for 1.7 million vulnerable children.

Read more: Marcus Rashford warns of 'devastating' effects of child poverty as he launches new task force

Read more: Marcus Rashford 'grateful' for Boris Johnson free school meal U-turn

The 23-year-old also started a food education and cooking project for youngsters.

The Zoom discussion's topics included giving back to the community and the benefits of reading, among other themes from Mr Obama's memoir, A Promised Land.

The full conversation will be live on YouTube from 2pm on Friday.

Rashford said: "It's quite surreal isn't it? I'm sitting in my kitchen in Manchester, speaking to President Obama. But, immediately, he made me feel at ease.

"It wasn't long before I realised just how aligned our experiences as children were in shaping the men you see today - adversity, obstacles and all.

"I genuinely enjoyed every minute of it. When President Obama speaks, all you want to do is listen."

The forward's influence has become so great that during his explosive testimony to MPs this week, the Prime Minister's ex-adviser Dominic Cummings claimed Mr Johnson was warned not to take on Rashford over the meals issue.